Little Rock Announces New $100 COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives

Sep 7, 2021

A health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City this year.
Credit npr.org

Little Rock residents who haven’t been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can soon receive a $100 incentive to do so.

The City of Little Rock on Tuesday announced four upcoming vaccine clinics which will offer free Visa Reward cards to people who have not yet been vaccinated. The city will use funding from the federal American Rescue Plan and partner with U.S. Bank on the program.

City spokesperson Spencer Watson says the goal is to bring up the city’s overall vaccination rate.

“Little Rock has a vaccination rate of approximately 46% total. That’s broken down by ZIP codes where we see some at 33%, 36%, 38%, so those are going to be the primary focus of our efforts,” Watson said.

Residents can either get a $100 card for receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two $50 cards for completing the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots. Those who have already received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines can still qualify for a $100 card for receiving a second dose.

Little Rock Chief Equity Officer Dionne Jackson says the program will hopefully boost the vaccination rate in the city’s central and southwest neighborhoods.

“Where we’re seeing those lower rates are in the 72209 and the 72204 ZIP codes. And so our emergency management team worked with us to pull numbers for ZIP codes, and we’re really trying to focus the clinic opportunities serving these two areas,” Jackson said.

The first clinic, offering only the Pfizer vaccine, is set for Saturday, Sept. 11 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Southwest Community Center. A follow-up clinic for second doses is set for Oct. 2 at the same time and in the same location.

Jackson said the program will include outreach efforts in both English and Spanish.

“We’re going to be specific in thinking about the demographics that we’re serving, and the radio stations, the community centers, the apartments, getting print materials out and not just relying on digital because many of the individuals that we have the privilege of serving sometimes are not on digital platforms,” Jackson said.

Watson said the program will hopefully prove more enticing to unvaccinated individuals than the statewide incentive program, which officials have admitted was not as successful as it could have been.

“I think that there are individuals for whom the vaccine is potentially not necessarily something that is seen with some sort of immediacy,” Watson said. “Frankly, the opportunity to have another $50 or $100 in your pocket maybe adds some argument… it’s a reason to do it for those who, for whatever reason, simply don’t have a reason.”

The statewide vaccine incentive program, which was announced in late May, offered lottery tickets and gift cards from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to unvaccinated residents.

Another city-run vaccine clinic will be held on Saturday, Nov. 6 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the West Central Community Center, offering both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The follow-up clinic for that will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4.