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Elementary school teacher wins grand prize in state’s military COVID-19 vaccine lottery

Meredith V. was chosen in the third and final $250,000 drawing of "A Heroes Thanks" COVID-19 vaccine lottery.

OLYMPIA, Wash — The $250,000 grand prize winner in Washington state’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery for military members is Meredith V., an elementary school teacher serving in the Army National Guard, according to Washington’s Lottery.

She is was introduced Friday morning during a press conference after meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Meredith, a single mother of two teenage daughters, teaches on the Kitsap Peninsula and has been serving in the National Guard for nearly 15 years. 

Along with paying off some debt and setting aside money for her daughters' college, Meredith said she hopes to use the money to go to a Seahawks game this upcoming season. 

She said that she didn't know about the vaccine lottery until she received the call telling her she won. She added that the incentive wouldn't have made a difference in her decision to get vaccinated, since she felt it was the right thing to do and necessary for her to be able to get back into a classroom to teach. 

"There’s nothing that I want more than to just be back in a normal classroom, and that’s likely not going to happen until we beat this thing," she said.

The “A Heroes Thanks” vaccine lottery was created for the state’s military members after they were not included in the original state lottery due to records-sharing issues with the federal government.

Meredith was chosen in the third drawing on Tuesday following two other $100,000 drawings the previous two weeks.

The lottery was created as an incentive for Washingtonians to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with the military-focused lottery being announced back in mid-June.

The state has since reached its original goal of getting 70% of residents 16 years old and up to initiate their vaccinations. However, COVID-19 cases have begun surging again throughout the state in what many are calling a fifth wave caused by the new delta variant and dropping vaccine rates.

Recently, vaccine rates have increased as health officials, like the state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah, continue to reassure residents that the vaccine is the most effective way to prevent infection and serious illness.

The statewide “Shot of a Lifetime” vaccine lottery was found to increase vaccination rates by about 24%, which is equal to about 28,500 Washingtonians getting the shot, according to state health officials.

In total, Washington's Lottery gave out $2.2 million in cash prizes, as well as hundreds of other prizes that were donated by businesses around the state.

Some other minor prizes from the "A Heroes Thanks" have yet to be claimed, according to Washington's Lottery. If they remain unclaimed, they will be returned to the businesses that donated them.  

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