BUTTE — The fifth group of five weekly winners took home a total of $35,000 in the most recent Butte-Silver Bow COVID-19 Vaccine Sweepstakes ceremony at the Butte Civic Center.
Announced Thursday as the most recent sweepstakes winners were Joseph Good, $10,000; Joyce Whitford, $10,000; Jayna Dixon, $5,000; Taylor Garrett, $5,000; and Arika Stajcar, $5,000.
Thursday’s winners represent the fifth group of five people to win.
The sweepstakes began June 24, and since then, a total of $175,000 has been awarded to 25 people.
County Commissioners approved the plan for Butte-Silver Bow that uses $500,000 of federal CARES Act money toward educating the public about the COVID-19 vaccine. Town Pump matched the $500,000 to help with cash prizes for people who get vaccinated.
Through September 30, $35,000 will be awarded weekly, with a total of $525,000 to be given away to Butte-Silver Bow residents who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Butte-Silver Bow Health Officer Karen Sullivan noted that three of yesterday’s winners are teen-agers – Stajcar is 13, while Garrett and Dixon are 15.
“We will be pushing back-to-school COVID-19 vaccines very heavily in the coming days,” Sullivan said, adding that individuals ages 12 to 17 are able to receive only the Pfizer model of the vaccine. “A child receiving the Pfizer vaccine today needs to wait three weeks after the first shot for the second booster shot. That child then needs to wait two weeks to have full effectiveness of the vaccine. That means a child who is immunized today with Pfizer will have effective immunity against the virus Aug. 27.”
The first day of school for the Butte Central Catholic School system is Aug. 23. The first day of school for Butte School District No. 1, Butte’s public school district is Aug. 30.
Sullivan said messaging continues to be issued to the community in regard to the Vaccine Sweepstakes, along with the danger of the now prevalent Delta variant to the COVID-19 virus, and the vulnerability of Butte-Silver Bow’s youngest residents, those under the age of 12. A COVID-19 pediatric vaccine is not yet available.
Several pharmacies in Butte-Silver Bow – Safeway Pharmacy on Massachusetts, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and the Medical Arts Pharmacy in the RMAP building next to St. James Healthcare – have the COVID-19 vaccine readily available. The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department and Southwest Montana Community Health Center also have COVID-19 vaccinations available. Pop-up vaccination clinics are also being held weekly. Vaccines will be available at Saturday’s Farmer’s Market on Park Street, 10 a.m.-noon.
As of Monday, 58 percent of Butte-Silver Bow’s population eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine – those age 12 and older – had been fully vaccinated, putting the county at No. 2 in the state for vaccination rate, behind Missoula County, which stands at 60 percent.
“We are hoping that those who remain unvaccinated are incentivized to become vaccinated by the opportunity to win real money,” Sullivan said. “We are also hoping that people are incentivized to protect their own health, their family’s health – particularly those under the age of 12 – and the community’s health.”
Sullivan said the Delta variant has been detected in Butte-Silver Bow.
As of Sunday, Butte-Silver Bow had seen 4,186 cases of COVID-19, with 4,092 individuals recovering from the virus and 86 dying from complications related to COVID-19. As of Sunday, Butte-Silver Bow had eight active cases but since then has added one more.