Winston-Salem teacher first to win million dollar prize for getting COVID vaccine

Shelly Wyramon becomes North Carolina’s first million dollar winner in the vaccine lottery.

Shelly Wyramon decided to get the COVID vaccine to protect herself and her family and that decision paid off big time.

The Winston-Salem teacher and mother of three became the state’s first $1 million vaccine lottery winner on Monday.

Wyramon refused to believe that she had really won the life-changing prize until she got on a video phone with state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

“My husband and I have aging parents that we weren’t getting to spend much time with, and I love to teach children and I wasn’t getting to do that in person,” said Wyramon at a Monday press conference. “I wanted to do my small part to stop the spread.”

Wyramon says the vaccine will also her to get back to spending precious time with those that she loves including her students.

Officials also announced 14-year-old Vania Martinez from Wilmington was the first winner of a $125,000 college scholarship prize for getting the vaccine.

Martinez said she was inspired to get vaccinated after seeing young people contract the virus, and after losing someone close to her.

“I did my research. It was safe for me. It was safe for my family.”

Martinez said the added benefit of the scholarship money will help her and her mother cover college expenses.

Governor Roy Cooper said he is hopeful stories life Shelly’s and Vania’s encourage others to get the COVID vaccine.

“Whatever brings people in to get their vaccinations is what we want to do,” Cooper said. “One of the things I know is we have to do is to do this one person, one household, one telephone call, one shot at a time.”

“We need to do better here in North Carolina” DHHS Sec. Cohen stressed. “Areas of our state with low vaccination rates are seeing increased COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Bladen County where just 33% of the population is vaccinated is experienced critically high viral spread right now.

Officials are stressing the need to get vaccinated this summer as a more contagious delta variant is emerging across the state.

“Being vaccinated protects you from becoming seriously ill. There are some break through cases, but almost all the time the illness is less serious and you have a low chance of passing it on to someone else,” Cooper said.

To date, 55% of North Carolinians 18-years-old and older have received the vaccine. Fifty-three percent (53%) of those 12+ have been vaccinated.

The next drawing will occur on July 7 with that winner will be announced the following week.

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