Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO holds giveaway for vaccinated students

Monday, September 27, 2021
Musical Theatre major, Lily John was excited to win $500 in the vaccine incentive drawing.
Photo by Hannah Wolfe

The Southeast Missouri State Emergency Response Team has found a way to increase the COVID-19 vaccination rate on campus by hitting students where it counts — their wallets.

The first round of winners of the Great SEMO Vaccine Give Away Get Away were announced Sept. 20.

Forty students were awarded $250 each, and 40 additional students were given $500 each. Students were entered into a drawing if they either received a COVID-19 vaccination on campus or if they provided proof of previous vaccination.

Musical theater major Lily John was one of the recipients of the $500 prize.

“This is great! Just the other day, I told my friends we would know one of the people who won, and I never expected it to be me,” John said.

John went on to explain the $500 prize money would help her to pay off her car payment and finance a trip to Chicago with her friends.

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success Debbie Below said the idea for the cash giveaway was driven by Southeast’s goal of keeping students and faculty safe.

“Vaccinating our student population, our faculty and our staff is very important to us,” Below said. “We believe that vaccination is the key to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Below said that fortunately, there are federal funds available Southeast can use to help educate students about the COVID-19 vaccines and to fund vaccine prize money giveaways.

Below and the Emergency Response Team managing the giveaways are not the only ones interested in getting the student body vaccinated. At the beginning of the school year, President Carlos Vargas set a goal of achieving a 70% vaccination rate for students.

“Our current vaccination rate is 42%, but next week, we believe we’ll be around 50%,” Below said.

So far, the incentives have been helping the vaccination rate get closer to Vargas’s goal of 70%. More and more students each day have been submitting proof of their vaccination to Southeast.

“We’ve had a high participation rate already. For example, the total number of students who have submitted vaccination documents earlier this week was around 2,600, and even just today, we received 45 vaccination verifications,” Below said.

If you weren’t one of the 80 winners from this first drawing, there is still time to get involved. To have your name put into the drawing for one of the remaining 120 cash prizes, submit proof of full vaccination, which can be done online or in person, or get vaccinated on campus at one of the vaccination clinics being held between now and Dec. 8. The next clinic will be held in the University Center Program Lounge Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.