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More than 450,000 Missourians have entered the Missouri Vaccine Incentive Program ahead of its first drawing today.

With the first round of 180 winners set to be drawn today, participation in Missouri's Vaccine Incentive Program is increasing, Gov. Mike Parson told reporters Wednesday. Wednesday night was the cutoff for the program's first round of drawings, which will be announced two weeks later.

MO VIP offers the chance to be one of 900 Missourians who will win $10,000 for getting at least the first round of COVID-19 vaccines.

Ten names will be drawn from each of Missouri's eight congressional districts for both the red and white categories of the program, resulting in 160 Missourians winning $10,000 each.

Also today, 20 minors between the ages 12-17 will be drawn from across the state and awarded a $10,000 education savings account.

Within the first 24 hours of the vaccine incentive's announcement, over 78,000 people were registered for the drawing.

Participants can sign up for the MO VIP incentive program via the online form at covidvaccine.mo.gov. Those without access to the online form can register by calling the COVID-19 hotline at 877-435-8411 on weekdays from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Parson said participation in the incentive program has been even between rural and urban areas around the state so far.

"We're encouraged by the amount of attention this program has brought to the importance of getting vaccinated," Parson said. "We're also seeing more and more conversations between Missourians and their trusted medical experts about getting vaccinated."

Robert Knodell, acting director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said the winners of today's drawing will be made public two weeks after to allow time for the verification process.

DHSS Bureau of Immunizations will verify the winners are eligible and meet the terms and conditions of the program, Knodell said, while the Missouri Lottery conducts the drawing.

"It will take a little bit of time, but I would venture to say that a number of the winners will be pretty excited about that and that they will be raising their hands as well," Knodell said.

Alternatives will also be drawn in the event a winner isn't eligible.

Parson also said more than 200,000 vaccines have been administered since the state's vaccine incentive program was announced. He said it's a nearly 50 percent increase over the daily and weekly vaccination rates the state had before the announcement.

"While we're making progress with Missouri VIP, the delta variant continues to pose a serious risk to unvaccinated Missourians," Parson said. "COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, but the people ending up in the hospital with serious illness continue to be the unvaccinated."

Knodell said the uptake in vaccines is proportional with the state's populations in urban and rural areas.

The exception is in southwest Missouri, Knodell said, where vaccinations are outperforming regional expectations.

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