Next round of vaccine lottery winners announced

COVID-19 Vaccine

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The next round of winners of the MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes was announced Wednesday, including two winners from Grand Rapids.

Six winners of the $50,000 daily drawings had already been notified and were introduced publicly at virtual press conference. It was the fourth round of winners the state has announced.

The six winners were selected from people who got vaccinated on July 14 and from July 18-22.

The first Grand Rapids winner, who got her shot on July 18, is Briana Hrejsa, a health care worker who joined the announcement live to share why she got the shot.

She works as a respiratroy therapist in Greenville, and said she got the shot at the Meijer pharmacy on Alpine in Grand Rapids.

She said she was hesitant to get it at first, because it hasn’t received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. She said eventually decided to get it to protect her partner, who is immunocompromised, and her patients.

“The vaccine is our opportunity to return to normal,” she said.

She said she’ll use the money for textbooks as she plans to go back to school, and will probably save the rest.

The second Grand Rapids winner, Joshua Long, received the vaccine on July 21.

He wasn’t planning on getting the vaccine until he started seeing ads for the sweepstakes. Around that time his wife got the vaccine. As the parent of a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, he decided he didn’t want to take the risk and got vaccinated.

He and his family will be using the money to make a down payment on a house.

Four other winners from across the state were announced.

Debbie Cameron from Port Huron, who got her shot on July 14, won. She said she works in a hospital and has seen what COVID-19 patients have gone through, and doesn’t want her loved ones to do the same.

The winner who got his shot on July 19 is Brian Louissa from West Bloomfield. He said he was hesitant to get the vaccine until he has a serious conversation about it with his daughter, who encouraged him to do it to protect his family.

The next winner, vaccinated on July 20, is Deidre Malloy from Kincheloe. She said she had intended to get it earlier until she was diagnosed with cancer. She couldn’t receive the vaccine while receiving treatment and had to wait until her doctor OK-d her to get the vaccine.

“Having had a cancer diagnosis has been a real punch in the gut,” she said.

The 66-year-old explained that while her tribe was able to financially help her, her treatments were still a huge financial burden on herself and her family.

“Winning this has been a real ray of sunshine. It still seems surreal,” Malloy said.

She said COVID-19 has been especially worrying for her, because if she got the virus “it would have killed me. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”

Joel Cotton from South Lyon also won. The small business owner and employee of the Ford Motor Company was vaccinated on July 22.

He said he got the shot to protect himself, his family and his community. He said he plans on saving most of the prize money, and may use some of it for a down-payment on a home.

Protect Michigan Commission Director Kerry Ebersole Singh and Small Business Association of Michigan President Brian Calley announced the winners.

More than 2.4 million Michigan residents entered the giveaway, the state said, which ended Aug. 3. Almost 105,000 young residents entered the scholarship drawings.

The $1 million winner was announced on July 21.

The next round of $50,000 winners, as well as the scholarship winners, will be announced on Aug. 11.

The $2 million grand-prize winner will be announced on Aug. 18.

“As we celebrate the winners today, we can do so knowing progress was made in July,” Calley said.

Singh discussed the results of the sweepstakes, which aimed to encourage Michigan residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are happy with the progress we have made,” Singh said.

She said that according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the number of people who received a first dose of the vaccine rose steadily each week of the sweepstakes:

  • From July 4 to July 10: 28,770 first doses administered
  • From July 11 to July 17: 30,502 first doses administered
  • From July 18 to July 24: 35,952 first doses administered
  • From July 25 to July 31: 41,150 first doses administered 

Currently, 63.8% of Michigan residents 16 and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot.

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