Maria Corona Lopez and her husband Rafael Martinez had heard that lottery prizes were being offered in Los Angeles for people who had received their COVID-19 vaccinations, but they had no idea that Washington County was offering lottery prizes or that they had a chance of winning.
“We couldn’t believe it! We almost jumped out of happiness!” said Corona Lopez, after learning that she was one of 10 people in the county who won a $10,000 lottery prize.
The couple is in their 60s. Raphael has diabetes and works for an auto dealership where he interacts with many customers. He knew that if he got the virus he could become seriously ill or die.
Maria cares for their nine-year-old granddaughter and has six other grandchildren, two who got very sick with COVID-19. Because of these experiences, the couple was anxious to get the vaccine as soon as it was available, and now they are encouraging the whole community.
“I advise everyone to get vaccinated for their health, for their families and for others,” said Corona Lopez.
“I tell all the people I know that we have to go get vaccinated, the Delta variant has already come out and people like me who have diabetes are at risk of losing their life,” added Martinez.
The couple was vaccinated at a Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center clinic and is planning to use the money to pay bills and to help pay for Raphael’s upcoming eye surgery.
Scott Butcher, a 49-year-old truck driver from Aloha, was also surprised when he got a call telling him he had won a $10,000 prize.
“It’s one of those things you hear about, but don’t think you’ll win,” said Butcher, who has worked every day during the pandemic. Although he was hesitant when he first heard about the vaccine, he was convinced that he should get the shot once he learned that people he knew had gotten sick.
Adults in Washington County who received their vaccination before June 27 were eligible for one of 10 $10,000 lottery prizes. Kids ages 12-17 who received their first vaccination by June 27 were eligible for one of five $20,000 college scholarships through the Oregon College Savings Plan.
Fifteen-year-old Josie Erjavec is one of the scholarship winners. She returns to 10th grade classes this fall at Glencoe High School and says she feels much more protected now that she’s vaccinated.
“I wanted to get it as soon as possible because I could be considered high risk. I have a condition similar to asthma, but COVID could make it much worse,” said Erjavec, who plans to use the money to help pay for a college degree in psychology.
Another scholarship winner, 16-year-old Jennifer Martinez Chavez, had an extra incentive to get the COVID-19 vaccination. She and three other family members contracted COVID last year before the vaccine was available.
“Getting sick made me want to get the vaccine because I didn’t want to get COVID again,” said Martinez Chavez. “I wanted to protect my family and prevent the spread of the virus.”
Martinez Chavez, who will be a junior this year at Glencoe High School, says the money will help her become a veterinarian, a dental assistant or a hair stylist.
Washington County Public Health manager Tricia Mortell congratulated the winners, saying, “The winners and everyone in our county who has been vaccinated are setting an example for others who may still need a COVID-19 vaccination.”
Mortell, who is retiring this week from her 40-year career in public health, added, “This includes many people of color who face barriers that may make it difficult for them to access the vaccine. We are committed to closing the vaccination equity gap and as cases start to rise again, we encourage you to talk to your friends and neighbors about the protection a vaccination can provide.”
If you or someone you know has questions about the vaccine or wants to find out how to get one, visit www.co.washington.or.us/vaccine or www.co.washington.or.us/vacuna call the county’s vaccination helpline at 1-833-907-3520.