Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 had an added benefit for Kathleen Stasso, who walked out her front door in Windsor on Monday to see a new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid in the driveway.
Stasso was shocked as she was presented with the Windsor-made minivan — the grand prize in the WEVax To Win contest — by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
"Oh my God. You've gotta be kidding me," she said.
Prior to the Publishers Clearinghouse-style giveaway, Stasso had been contacted by the city to provide confirmation of her vaccination but was not told what prize she had won in the random draw.
"I was not expecting a prize like this," she said.
The lottery was launched by the city and Essex County on Sept. 1 in order to boost lagging COVID-19 vaccination rates. Anyone who is vaccinated was eligible to enter, and more than 66,000 people signed up.
Dilkens said he was happy for Stasso and noted that she had been encouraging everyone she knows to get vaccinated.
"The look on her face was something I'll remember forever," Dilkens said.
There were just under 100 winners who shared in more than $200,000 in prizes, according to the WEVax To Win website. Those prizes included property tax and rental fee breaks, paid undergraduate post-secondary tuition, staycation packages and gaming consoles.
Campaign 'helped to amplify the message'
So far, 86 per cent of all Ontario residents 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In Windsor-Essex, the rate remains a bit lower, at 83.1 per cent fully vaccinated, though 86.6 per cent of those 12 and older have gotten at least one dose.
Nicole Dupuis, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said she feels the WEVax campaign was a success, though it's hard to know precisely how much of an impact it had on vaccine uptake.
"We can't pinpoint an increase ... of vaccination from any one specific effort but certainly the WEVax campaign helped to amplify the message. It helped to simply information to one source," she said at a virtual media briefing on Monday.