Jim Durkee of Fairbanks is announced as the winner of the $49,000 prize for the third week of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Jim Durkee of Fairbanks is announced as the winner of the $49,000 prize for the third week of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Fairbanks man, Bethel teen win this week’s vaccine lottery

“Give AK a Shot” awards funds to one newly vaccinated adult resident and one newly vaccinated child resident.

The Alaska Chamber announced Thursday the third week’s lottery winners in the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program.

Jim Durkee in Fairbanks won this week’s adult $49,000 pool, while Bethel High School student Elia Samuelson was awarded a $49,000 scholarship administered as an Alaska 529 savings plan.

“Give AK a Shot” allows for one newly vaccinated adult resident — 18 and up — to receive $49,000 cash, and one newly vaccinated child resident — 12 to 17 years old — to receive a $49,000 scholarship in an Alaska 529 education savings plan. If the child’s guardian is also vaccinated, they’ll be eligible to win another $10,000 in cash. The campaign, which is funded through the federal CARES Act, will choose a winner each week through the beginning of November.

Kati Capozzi, the Alaska Chamber president and CEO, said 2,825 Alaskans received their first vaccine dose during week 3, and about 25% of them entered the lottery.

Capozzi emphasized that the recently vaccinated person has to register for the lottery program themselves — it’s not automatic.

“I can’t stress this enough — if you do get vaccinated, you need to enter to win,” she said.

Durkee said he chose to get vaccinated because of the surge Alaska is experiencing. He said he had been putting it off because of some underlying health issues, but decided last week to do it.

“I think the thing that triggered me more than anything else is the fact that whenever I go out people … are not vaccinated or not wearing masks or not practicing social distancing,” Durkee said. “Being in that environment made me feel like I need to be a little more defensive and get the vaccine.”

He said he plans on sharing some of his earnings with his kids.

Samuelson, a freshman at Bethel High, won a $49,000 scholarship. His mom Carol Samuelson also got her first dose last week and won $10,000 cash.

Samuelson said he’s considering several different career paths.

“I wanted to be a pilot,” he said. “But … thinking about it, I’m trying to be a doctor.”

Carol Samuelson said they had a change of heart about the vaccine recently.

“We were on the fence for a long time, this whole year of me saying ‘no’, feeling like our bodies could do it themselves,” she said. “All of a sudden last week, there was a positive in our house. … We talked a lot with the people at YKHC (Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation) and family and friends and they all encouraged us to get it.”

She said she plans to take the family to visit her college-aged daughter with her winnings.

To enter the incentive sweepstakes, participants must register with vaccine and personal information — including name, vaccination date and vaccination location — at giveakashot.com. People are only eligible for the incentive prizes during the week they are vaccinated.

The fourth round of winners will be announced on Oct. 7. Drawings will continue once a week, with winners announced on Thursdays, through Nov. 4.

Alaskans vaccinated before Sept. 2 can enter to win for their one-time drawing any time before Oct. 30.

For more information visit giveakashot.com.

Getting a vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart and Walgreens, and the Kenai Fire Department offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

People who would like assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

Elia Samuelson (left) of Bethel is announced as the winner of a $49,000 scholarship for the third week of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. His mother Carol also won $10,000 cash. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Elia Samuelson (left) of Bethel is announced as the winner of a $49,000 scholarship for the third week of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program. His mother Carol also won $10,000 cash. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

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