Virus Outbreak Missouri

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021 file photo, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address in Jefferson City, Mo. Federal officials are pushing back after Parson said he doesn't want government employees going door-to-door to urge people to get vaccinated. Missouri asked for help last week from nearly formed federal "surge response" teams as it combats an influx of cases that's overwhelming some hospitals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Wednesday, during a press conference at the Missouri State Capitol, Gov. Mike Parson announced a set of incentives to encourage more Missourians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The incentive program, called MO VIP, is offering $10,000 in cash or education savings to 900 Missourians who will be randomly drawn. Those who have already been vaccinated are also eligible to enter. Entries can be made online at covidvaccine.mo.gov.

The COVID-19 vaccination has been offered to all Missourians ages 16 and up since April 9 and to children between the ages of 12 and 15 since May 12. State data showed Wednesday that around 46.5 percent of eligible Missourians have begun the vaccination process and 40 percent are completely vaccinated. When accounting for only those 18 and older, those rates are 57 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

"We understand that the some Missourians are hesitant towards getting the vaccine, but we must all take personal responsibility and do right by our own health and that of our friends and family by getting vaccinated," Gov. Parson said. "This new program will compliment our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine. Our current COVID-19 situation is serious. This Delta variant transmits faster than what we have previously seen and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated, so now is the perfect opportunity to get vaccinated and earn your shot at $10,000."

More information and official rules are available online at mostopscovid.com/win.

Gov. Parson also announced Wednesday that he has named Donald G. Kauerauf to lead the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The position has been vacant since the agency's former director, Dr. Randall Williams, resigned in April. 

Kauerauf holds a bachelor's of science degree in occupational safety and health from Illinois State University. He has more than 30 years of experience in state government and has served in various senior leadership positions in public health and emergency management, according to a press release from the governor. 

Kauerauf was the assistant director of the Illinois Department of Public Health from 2016 until his retirement in 2018 and was since selected to chair the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, where he has served throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.