The Alaska Chamber announced the first week’s lottery winners Thursday, as part of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine incentive program.
Carin Kircher in Valdez won this week’s adult $49,000 pool, while Kodiak student Ethan Benton 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 end of October.
Kati Capozzi, the Alaska Chamber president and CEO, said more than 4,350 Alaskans received their first vaccine dose on week one, and 1,742 of them entered to win the sweepstakes.
“That means just under 40% of Alaskans that were vaccinated chose to enter,” she said during the announcement. “If you do get vaccinated, you do have to go to the website to get entered to win.”
Capozzi emphasized that the recently vaccinated person has to register for the lottery program themselves — it’s not automatic.
Kircher, who lives in Valdez with her husband and two dogs, said she decided to get vaccinated after talking to her brother.
“I talked to my brother, who’s in the medical field, and did my research,” she said. “It seemed like a really good idea to be a part of getting the world back to normal a little bit.”
Kircher said she plans on saving most of the prize money, but also putting some toward a family vacation next month.
Benton said he decided to get the jab to stay safe at school this year.
“I figured with school coming up it would probably be a good idea to get vaccinated and be safe,” he said.
The Kodiak teen said he plans on using the $49,000 scholarship fund to help him break into STEM.
“I still have a lot of options to consider, but I’m looking for something in the scientific field,” he said. “It’ll help me get a good education that I can’t afford right now, and open up my opportunities.”
Since Laura Walters, Benton’s legal guardian, got her first shot alongside the teenager during week one, she also won $10,000 cash from the sweepstakes.
She said she will probably plan a family vacation with some of the winnings.
“There’s multiple teenagers living in this house,” Walters said. “Probably we ought to do some sort of trip or something fun for them since it’s them getting vaccinated.”
The duo said they think it’s important to get the shots to protect Alaska communities.
“It’s definitely worth it, and it’s pain free and easy,” Benton said. “And it keeps everyone safe.”
“I couldn’t have said it better,” Walters said. “I think it’s really important for us to do this not just for ourselves, but for our entire state.”
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 in which they are vaccinated.
The second winners will be announced on Sept. 23. 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 COVID vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.
Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, 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.
COVID testing locations
Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.
In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center and Capstone Clinic.
In Soldotna, testing is available at the Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.
In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. Starting Sept. 14, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-through testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.