The Little Rock Board of Directors at a meeting Tuesday approved a resolution authorizing a contract with U.S. Bank to distribute prepaid Visa cards of up to $100 to individuals who get vaccinated at city-arranged clinics.
The contract is for up to $700,000. The resolution was approved as part of the board's consent agenda Tuesday evening without discussion.
According to the resolution, U.S. Bank was selected as the vendor because it offered the lowest bid among the three applicants to the city.
In order to receive the Visa cards, individuals must get vaccinated at city-sponsored clinics.
The first clinic took place Sept. 11. First and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were offered. The associated follow-up clinic will take place from 1-5 p.m. Oct. 2 at Southwest Community Center.
Two more clinics scheduled in November and December will offer participants the opportunity to get their jab with the Moderna vaccine as well as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The maximum value an individual can receive is $100 in the form of two $50 cards after completing the two-dose vaccines or, alternatively, one $100 card after receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
The source of funding for the vaccination program is the federal windfall the city has received as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act, which Congress approved this spring. President Joe Biden signed the covid-19 stimulus package into law March 11.
It included approximately $350 billion in direct aid to various government entities across the United States, including local governments.
Little Rock's expected share of federal aid is $37.7 million -- the largest sum among all the cities in Arkansas receiving aid -- and will be disbursed in two installments. The first half was received in May and the second half will arrive next year.
Various jurisdictions have sought to create incentives for getting vaccinated.
A statewide program in Arkansas announced by the governor in May offered individuals who get vaccinated an Arkansas Scholarship Lottery scratch-off ticket worth $20 or two gift certificates for the state's Game and Fish Commission worth $21.
The text of the Little Rock resolution leaves open the possibility that the Visa cards will be purchased through the end of 2022, with the possibility of extensions through the end of 2026.
During a virtual news conference earlier this month, the city's intergovernmental relations manager, Emily Jordan Cox, said several hundred cards have been purchased and noted that city officials wanted to be "conservative" with their spending in case residents do not take advantage of the incentive.