Retired Santa Fe Nurse Among First $ 250,000 Vaccine Sweepstakes Winners | Local News

Ruth Meilstrup was traveling in southern New Mexico when she received a ping to her phone early Tuesday afternoon.

It was a text and voicemail message from the governor’s office, telling her that she had won a quarter of a million dollars in cash.

“I was totally in disbelief,” Meilstrup said in a telephone interview. “Honestly, I was wondering if this was a scam.

It was anything but: Meilstrup, a retired nurse from Santa Fe, was one of four winners of the state’s Department of Health’s Vax 2 the Max competition, created as an incentive for the COVID-vaccination campaign. 19 from New Mexico.

After verifying that the call and text were legitimate, Meilstrup said she was stunned to be one of four winners selected in Friday’s draw and revealed on Tuesday.

“There’s not much to say,” she said. “It’s exciting, it’s weird and I’m still pinching myself.”

Meilstrup, 72, has been retired for seven years after a 31-year career as a nurse at the Indian Hospital in Santa Fe. She lives in town near one of her sons, Andrew; the other, Peter, resides in Seattle.

She said she received both COVID-19 vaccines in March in Santa Fe, although she noted that she almost traveled to Alamosa, Colorado, to receive the inoculation. She remained at home, however, upon learning that it was her turn to get the vaccine.

Meilstrup told her late husband, David Meilstrup, died last year from glioblastoma, a type of cancer, but she thinks the good news is that he’s watching over her. The drawing, she wrote in an email, took place on the first anniversary of her death.

Three other New Mexicans: Phillip Perez, 53, Albuquerque; Linda Tobkin, 68, from Ruidoso; and Taylor Brooke Provencio, 23, of Chamberino in Do̱a Ana County Рwere also among the first winners of the competition, each from a different public health region in the state.

June was the first of five draws each giving a total of $ 1 million throughout the summer, according to a press release from the Department of Health. The following draws are scheduled for July 2, July 16, July 23, and July 30, with a $ 5 million grand prize draw scheduled for August. The money is taken from a $ 10 million fund backed by federal stimulus dollars.

Since the financial incentive programs began, the New Mexico immunization website has seen an increase in visitors last week compared to the previous week and a 250% increase in first-time visitors. week after week, according to the Department of Health.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Meilstrup was still awaiting instructions on how to receive her award. She said she didn’t know what she would do with the money, just the second cash prize she won in her life – she already got $ 36 from a scratch lottery ticket.

Tuesday’s news brought him a whole other chance.

“I really have no idea what to do right now,” she said. “I figured I should probably talk to someone about finances to see what the best way to handle this is.”

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