Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras Recognizes Second Vax-to-School Scholarship Winner

Posted December 13, 2022

Elliot Wisneski, a second grader in the Kingston City School District, has won a two-year scholarship to SUNY Ulster through a lottery drawing


Eligibility for the second Ulster County Vax-to-School Scholarship aligned with eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone aged 5-17 could enter to win the raffle upon vaccination by the Department of Health, a pediatrician, doctor or pharmacist


KINGSTON, N.Y. - Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras and Executive Director of the Foundation at SUNY Ulster Lorraine Salmon are pleased to announce the winner of the second lottery drawing for the Ulster County Vax-to-School scholarship: Kingston 2nd grader Elliot Wisneski won a two-year scholarship to SUNY Ulster. The scholarship will be held for the 7-year-old, who was entered into the lottery when he was vaccinated against COVID-19 during the County’s Vax-to-School program last spring. 

“We are appreciative to the Wisneski family for taking this important protection and choosing to get Elliot vaccinated against COVID-19,” Acting County Executive Johanna Contreras said. “We are excited to support Elliot’s education, and I want to thank SUNY Ulster and the Ulster Community College Foundation for their partnership in this effort to incentivize and normalize COVID vaccination.”

“We would like to thank the Ulster County Executive’s office and the SUNY Ulster Foundation for this scholarship and the opportunity for Elliot to begin his college career at the same school his parents attended,” Elliot’s father, Leon Wesneski, said. “Elliot wants to work for NASA when he grows up, so this scholarship will help to kickstart his space exploration career.”

“Thank you, Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras and former Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan, now U.S. Congressman, for making the Vax to School scholarship opportunity possible so students can access higher education at SUNY Ulster through two-year tuition support from the Ulster Community College Foundation," Alison Buckley, Ed.D., President of SUNY Ulster, said.

"The County's commitment to our students and the future leaders of Ulster County while simultaneously highlighting the importance of their health and well-being through the COVID-19 pandemic is unparalleled. We thank Ulster County and all our donors who empower our Foundation,” Lorraine Salmon, Executive Director, Foundation at SUNY Ulster said. “This year our Foundation will support Vax to School and other scholarships with $1,000,000 in support for SUNY Ulster students." 

Part of the statewide Vax to School initiative, eligibility for the Ulster County Vax-to-School Scholarship expanded when eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine expanded to 5-to-11-year-olds, and anyone aged 5-17 could enter to win the 2nd round raffle upon vaccination by the Department of Health, a pediatrician, doctor or pharmacist.

Earlier this month, Acting County Executive Contreras and Commissioner of Health Dr. Carol Smith encouraged residents to get up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC recommends that people ages 5 years and older receive one updated bivalent booster if it has been at least 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, whether that was their primary series or a monovalent booster. The updated bivalent booster protects against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

You can obtain the updated booster at the same time as other vaccines, including your flu shot, at your doctor’s office or at an urgent care or pharmacy. COVID vaccines and boosters are also free and widely available at pharmacies, pediatricians’ and doctors’ offices and at urgent care centers. To find a local vaccination site, visit or call 1-800-232-0233.

The Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccination POD at the former Best Buy at the Hudson Valley Mall will remain open this winter to ensure equitable and easy access to free COVID-19 vaccines. Appointments are available at and walk-ins are accommodated. No insurance is necessary. The POD is a stop on the UCAT bus route. Additionally, residents can call UCAT for paratransit service to their vaccination appointment. 

Photo caption (left to right): Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras, Leon and Elliot Wisneski and SUNY Ulster's Lorraine Salmon