White House to partner with Uber and Lyft for free rides to vaccination sites

The White House is partnering with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft to make all journeys to and from Covid-19 vaccination sites free until 4 July.

The administration will provide details of approximately 80,000 vaccination sites to Uber and Lyft, which will then promote the ride scheme through their apps.

People will be able to select a vaccination site near them, follow simple directions to redeem their ride, and then be taken to and from the location free of charge. The feature will launch in the next two weeks.

As part of the drive to have 70 per cent of American adults receive at least one dose of the vaccine by Independence Day, the Biden administration is also directing some of the nation’s largest community colleges to host vaccination sites for students, staff, and local communities throughout May and June.

Funding is also being made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for states to fund more on-the-ground efforts to promote vaccinations in their communities, including phone banking, door-to-door canvassing, and pop-up vaccination sites in workplaces and churches.

Joe Biden will announce the new measures at a bipartisan meeting of governors on Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss creative and innovative ways states are working to get people vaccinated.

The community college program will also be a partnership with federal pharmacy partners and is seen as particularly important given the deep reach into communities the colleges provide, and the diversity of students.

Funding for these new schemes will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed by the president in March.

Uber and Lyft will not be paid by the federal government to take passengers to and from the vaccination sites.

They hope the arrangement could bring people back to using their platforms and encourage new users to sign up. Their business remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

Both companies have already partnered with pharmacies and other groups to provide free or discounted rides in some places, with a particular emphasis on low-income communities.

The Wall Street Journalreports that both companies have long been in discussion with the administration to be included in plans to tackle Covid-19, having met with the transition team in December in regards to providing transport to at-risk people. The vaccine rides initiative was put forward last week.

“Helping more Americans get vaccinated helps the Lyft community of drivers and riders, and we’re grateful to the Biden administration for prioritising access,” said John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: “Vaccines are our best hope to beat this pandemic, and soon everyone in America will be able to take a free Uber to get their shot.”

At present, 58.2 per cent of American adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 44.3 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

source : independent

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