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$5M COVID vaccine sweepstakes winner, $50K winners announced

person receives COVID vaccine shot
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At the beginning of July, Michigan announced it would give away around $5 million in cash and prizes to Michiganders who got the COVID-19 vaccine. Kerry Ebersole-Singh, the director of the Protect Michigan Commission, announced the winners Monday morning.

The winner of the $2 million grand prize is Christine Duval, a project manager from Bloomfield Township. She and her husband are originally from Montreal, and have three kids. She says she and her family feel very lucky to have won the money.

"The pandemic was tough on everyone, and we believe the need for providing services that promote positive mental health care is more important now than ever. It’s why we’ll be donating some of our grand prize to improve mental health services in our community," she said. "Merci, Michigan!"

Duval, who stayed home from work during the pandemic to help her 10-year-old with online school, says the rest of the money will go towards putting her kids through college, as well as updating their home.

Ebersole-Singh also announced the $50,000 drawing winners. One of those winners was Jacqueline Paul from Indian River in Cheboygan County. She works as a case manager for North Country Community Mental Health. 

Paul was diagnosed with Graves' disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the eyes. She says she's undergone four surgeries, including two in the past year. She was uncertain as to whether the vaccine was safe for her to take, given her condition, and credits Dr. Victor Maurice Elner at the University of Michigan for giving her the information she needed to make the decision to get vaccinated.

"Thank you to your incredible team at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center for sharing your wisdom, and potentially saving my life. I may not ever be able to repay your kindness, but with my sweepstakes prize, I’ll be be able to pay my medical bills," she said.

Currently, 59.8% of Michigan residents aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 55.1% are fully vaccinated. Health officials are hoping that the Food and Drug Administration's recent full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will encourage more people to get the shot.

"Some, through our public opinion research, have indicated that full approval from the FDA would be a mark towards moving them to get vaccinated. So for some that have been undecided, that were uncertain still with the emergency authorization that had been given to these vaccines, that full approval is going to be a motivator," Ebersole-Singh said.

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Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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