Kristin Carfi of Brogan holds up her prize check on Friday, Aug. 6, as the Malheur County winner of the state vaccine lottery. (AUSTIN JOHNSON/The Enterprise)

BROGAN - Joan Carfi is sick of phone scams. So, when someone called last week saying her daughter had won $10,000, she didn’t believe them.

The call was real, and coming from the state of Oregon.

Kristin Carfi was in the final group of 36 winners - one from each county in the state - to be randomly selected as part of the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign’s lottery. The lottery, announced on May 21, aimed to increase statewide vaccination rates.

An Oregon State University student, Chloe Zinda, won the $1 million prize in July. The state also distributed five $100,000 scholarships and four prizes up to $2,000.

Carfi lives with her parents, who are both over 75 and at high risk for Covid. She got vaccinated as soon as possible for their sake, well before the lottery’s June 27 deadline.

“I had no idea that there was even a lottery for people who had already been vaccinated. I just thought it was for new appointments,” Carfi said.

The Brogan resident said the prize felt like good karma after she worked hard to convince hesitant friends and family members to get vaccinated against Covid. She and her dad connected with her brother in Florida every day until he agreed.

Carfi knows personally that it can be a life-or-death decision.

“Don’t wait until you die,” Carfi said. “I lost three family members to it before they got the vaccine, and before they knew how bad it was.”

Her uncle in New Jersey and his son in Pennsylvania died within a few days of each other in March 2020. Carfi also had a friend from work die of Covid.

“If you were lucky enough to have not lost family, get the vaccine,” Carfi said. “Don’t wait until you get sick or someone you love gets sick.”

According to state and local health authorities, Covid vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness and death due to the illness, and limit the disease’s spread. Vaccinated people are also much less likely to get Covid and the delta variant, they say.

Carfi’s parents welcomed the vaccine, too. Her dad Sal Carfi had missed trips to Costco, and her mom said she’s eager to go back to work as a receptionist at Project Dove in Ontario.

The lottery wasn’t on any of their minds when they got vaccinated, but the prize will help them with expenses.

“Most of it’s going into the house,” said her dad. They plan on reflooring their home in Brogan, where they’ve lived for 15 years.

Carfi works in IT at the federal Bureau of Land Management, and previously worked for the city of Vale. She has already booked a ticket to Italy, where she vacations often. She said she hopes to retire there someday.

“Winning was really a cool reward for yelling at everybody to get the vaccine as soon as they could,” Carfi said. “It was interesting that they had to reward people to not die.”

Retiring to Brogan allowed her dad, who loves Western movies, to fulfill his dream of getting a horse. They’ve now rescued four, who will be eating the remainder of the prize money.

“Where does the rest of it go? Hay,” Carfi said.

News tip? Contact reporter Abbey McDonald at [email protected]

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