MSSU rolls out employee vaccine incentive program

JOPLIN, Mo. – Mount Vernon native Lacy Stokes is looking forward to a busy fall.

“I’m excited for basketball mostly,” says Stokes.

She’s about to start her first year at Missouri Southern State University as a dental hygiene major and basketball player.

“I’m hoping to actually get to play all of our games without, you know, getting quarantined,” says Stokes.

With that being said — Stokes has not been vaccinated.

“My step dad has been, but my mom hasn’t really pushed for it yet and I usually go by what my parents say,” says Stokes. “I feel like our basketball team’s gonna end up having to get it anyway.”

Joplin Health Department Director Ryan Talken says day to day cases go up and down, but the overall trend is upward.

“As of right now we’re averaging about 35 cases per day,” says Talken.

With classes starting on August 17th and cases increasing, MSSU is trying to get more people like Stokes to roll up their sleeves.

“With the resurgence of COVID activity around us, we feel it’s necessary to offer an incentive,”  says Vice President for Business Affairs Rob Yust.

MSSU is rolling out a faculty and staff vaccine incentive program. Starting August 9th, the university will draw weekly prices for faculty and staff who are vaccinated, or have an exemption.

Here’s how it works. Every week from August 9th through the 30th, two employees will win $250 in Lion Bucks. On September 1st, one vaccinated employee will win a $2500 cash prize.

Yust explains an incentive program for students is in the works.

“It will be comparable, but it will be more geared toward like Apple watches or some IT peripheral stuff that are more geared toward students,” says Yust. “Anything we can do to further encourage them to get vaccinated, we feel is a necessary effort on our part.”

The big question is, will the programs accomplish what the university hopes?

“For me probably not because I just… I don’t know, I don’t see myself spending much time in the bookstore,” explains Stokes. “But, I feel like it would push other students.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parson Wednesday also announced a new state wide incentive program call Mo VIP. Between July 13th and October 8th, 900 Missourians who have or will get vaccinated will win 10 thousand dollars each. Governor Parson hopes it will help educate residents about the importance of getting the vaccine.

“The ones that really are maybe on the bubble, maybe the ones who are trying to figure out, ‘Do I or do I not?’ We want to encourage them to take that vaccine,” says Governor Parson.

To learn more about Mo VIP, click here: