By Nate Blackford, Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville president

I want to start by sharing a bit of positive news. Over the past seven days, 253 additional Nodaway County residents and 137 Andrew County residents have received the vaccine. For Nodaway County specifically, this brings our total percentage of those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine to 40 percent. We are making progress!

In other news, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced last week the start of a new statewide COVID-19 vaccination program entitled “MO VIP.” The program is designed to encourage and incentivize vaccinations among eligible Missouri residents. The press release stated that “over the next three months, 900 Missourians who have or will choose to be vaccinated will win cash or education savings account prizes in the amount of $10,000.”

According to Governor Parson, “we understand that some Missourians are hesitant towards getting the vaccine, but we must all take personal responsibility and do right by our own health and that of our friends and family by getting vaccinated. This new program will complement our existing efforts to educate Missourians about the importance of getting the vaccine. Our current COVID-19 situation is serious. This delta variant transmits faster than what we have previously seen and is more likely to impact children and the unvaccinated, so now is the perfect opportunity to get vaccinated and earn your shot at $10,000.”

For more information about the incentive and how to register, please visit

I also want to take a moment to publicly recognize our team at Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville. As you can imagine, the past 18 months, or so, have been a grind full of many unknowns and new challenges. We knew our battle with COVID would be a marathon, not a sprint. But, with the significant decrease in cases and hospitalizations coming out of the winter and spring months, we had planned on a much needed “summer of healing” for our caregivers.

However, the recent spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations due to generally low vaccination rates and the introduction of the Delta variant, have caused us to put those efforts on hold and reengage fully in the battle.

Our caregivers are resilient, tough, and compassionate and will do whatever it takes to care for our patients and community during this extended pandemic. But they are human. It’s been a long and difficult 18 months. The vaccine is our greatest hope for healing. If you have not already done so, please consider getting the vaccine for yourself, your friends and family, our caregivers, or even for your chance to win $10,000.