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Jefferson County to fund 11 $10,000 prizes for those vaccinated agains COVID-19

Need a nudge to get the COVID vaccine? How does a chance at winning a million dollars sound? Or an even better chance at winning $10,000?

The State of Oregon gave Jefferson County $220,000 in coronavirus funds to use specifically for promoting the COVID vaccine.

County commissioners decided to use half of the money, $110,000, as lottery prizes for those who receive the vaccine.

"Probably my biggest point is that by doing the grants and scholarships to folks, the money stays in the community," says Jefferson County Commission Chair Kelly Simmelink. "I'm specifically happy that it might help some well-deserving Jefferson County kids to be able to go get an education, which is hugely important to me."

The state has already funded a million-dollar statewide prize and 36 $10,000 prizes, one for each county. With this latest decision, Jefferson County will fund eight additional $10,000 prizes for adults and three $10,000 Oregon College Savings Plan accounts for kids ages 12 to 18.

Every Jefferson County resident who has had the COVID vaccine shot, or will have by the drawing date, June 28, automatically enter the pool for the lottery.

The state set a goal for each county to vaccinate 65% of its population in order to achieve low risk status.

How close Jefferson County is to that goal depends on which measure you use. The official Oregon Health Authority dashboard has the county at 49%. By another measure, which includes vaccines from federal sources like the Indian Health Service, pharmacies, or the Veterans Administration, the county has vaccinated close to 57% of the population.

Commissioner Simmelink thinks the state ought the make the effort to include those federal vaccine numbers.

"I think it's really unfair to those that have already vaccinated to still be behind the ball along with everybody that hasn't been vaccinated as far as their business being open," says Simmelink. "I was a public address announcer last night at the Madras basketball game in a stadium that can hold 1,000-plus people, and you had maybe less than 100. My sense of urgency is to get things opened up fully and get back to normal."

If 70% of the population statewide gets vaccinated by July 1, all counties immediately go to low risk status.

"By that same dashboard, the state lists themselves at 55%," says Michael Baker, Jefferson County Public Health director. "With a month to go, it will probably be reached based on the number of vaccines that have been reprioritized."

The county is looking at other ways to spend the remaining $110,000 to promote the vaccine, including advertising, mail campaigns, new tents for vaccine clinics, and funding a six-month public health position dedicated to education.

"We're actually looking at the possibility of using some other funds to continue that position beyond just the six months," says Baker. "That's a chance for me to use some of those funds to do big picture work instead of just county vaccines, to look at the underlying data and show what is impacting the health of our community. Why are we so unhealthy? Why do we have half the number of deaths compared to Deschutes County who has 10 times the population?"

County Commissioners will receive another $4.8 million from the American Rescue Plan and will be looking for input from the public on how best to spend that money to further economic recovery from the coronavirus epidemic.

COVID vaccine clinics

*1-5 p.m. Friday, June 4

Culver City Hall/Fire Station, 200 First Ave., Culver

Open to ages 12 - 17 years

Pfizer vaccine only

*1-6 p.m. Wednesday, June 9

Jefferson County Community Center, 860 SW Madison St., Madras

Open to all age 12 and older

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

*5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 15,

Oregon Child Development Coalition Center, 659 NE A St., Madras

Open to all age 12 and older

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

* Noon - 7 p.m. Friday, June 18,

Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 430 SW Fairgrounds Road, Madras

Open to all age 12 and older

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

*No appointment necessary.

Walk-ins welcome.

Tuesdays, 8 - 10 a.m.

Jefferson County Public Health, 715 SW Fourth St., Madras

Open to all age 12 and older

Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

Please call for an appointment.

If you are homebound and unable to participate in a clinic, please contact Public Health to schedule an in-home appointment, 541-475-4456.


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