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Moo-derna: At One Illinois High School, Vaccinated Students Can Win 100 Pounds Of Beef

Cash lotteries, free college books, football tickets -- COVID-19 vaccine incentives are beefing up to meet immunization goals.

A few weeks ago as the school year began, Mendota superintendent Jeff Prusator received an interesting phone call.

“We had a local farmer that contacted me and wanted to know if it would be possible to donate a quarter beef process,” said Prusator.

In case you don’t already know, a quarter beef weighs in at around 100 pounds. The anonymous farmer wanted to incentivize families to get vaccinated. Now, the school is raffling off the meat to students who get the vaccine.

Students who are already vaccinated or get a shot before mid-October are placed in the raffle. The winner will be announced at a home football game.

“I'm not sure that there's a family out there that wouldn't appreciate being given $600 worth of high-quality beef,” he said.

Prusator says a little more than 35% of their high schoolers are vaccinated and he’s already been hearing from more students interested, thanks to the bovine prize.

When Mendota announced the sweepstakes on Facebook, some were less than thrilled. But the superintendent says he thinks of the prize as less an incentive and more so as a thank you to those who get vaccinated to protect the community.

This is the third school year affected by the pandemic. Positive COVID cases and dozens of quarantines have already soured the new school year for many districts.

On top of mask mandates, Mendota is also testing students twice a week to limit potential exposures. Prusator says they’re happy to think outside of the box if they need to make sure a whole generation of high schoolers doesn’t go through all four years with the pandemic lingering.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.