The White House is partnering with ride-sharing companies Uber Technologies and Lyft to offer free rides to and from vaccination sites through July 4th, according to an exclusive Wall Street Journal report. The details are to be announced in a Tuesday call with governors as the Biden administration gears up to vaccinate 70% of the U.S. adult population before Independence Day.
“To ensure that transportation is less of a barrier,” said President Joe Biden during a virtual meeting with governors Tuesday, “from May 24th to July 4th, Uber and Lyft are both going to offer everyone free rides to and from vaccination sites.” He added, “I think that is really stepping up.”
Uber and Lyft have previously offered some free and discounted rides to vaccination sites, but this new partnership will expand those services to anyone in the United States. The companies are set to receive data on about 80,000 vaccination sites from the Biden administration and will begin promoting free vaccination rides on May 24th. A new feature will be introduced on their apps that will allow users to “simply select a vaccination site near them, follow simple directions to redeem their ride, and then get a ride to take them to and from a nearby vaccination site free of charge,” reports Axios.
This latest push is part of the Biden Administration’s effort to get enough Americans vaccinated for safer gatherings in time for July 4th. According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, only 34.8% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of May 10th. The current rate of vaccinations is a little over 2.1 million doses a day, putting the United States on target to hit 75% of the population in 3 months. In mid-April, the vaccination effort reached a peak of about 3.38 million doses per day.
The Biden administration is hoping that by shifting their allocation methods towards state and local governments and private companies, they will be able to incentivise new audiences to get vaccinated. White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeffrey Zients points out that “not everyone has had the chance to get vaccinated yet.”
“That’s why,” he explains, “we are using all of the tools at our disposal and enlisting partners across sectors to meet the president’s goal of getting 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot by July 4th.”
Uber and Lyft will not be paid by the federal government in order to provide the free rides. Instead, the companies are hoping the program will bring new users back to their services after the pandemic put pressure on their ride-sharing services.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that this latest partnership will help expand on the company’s global commitments to facilitating access to COVID-19 vaccines. “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. We are honored to deepen our previous global commitments, and partner with the White House and Lyft to provide free rides to vaccination sites across the US. This is a proud moment for me, for Uber, and for our country,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said. Uber also partnered previously with Moderna to help provide vaccine-safety information.
“Helping more Americans get vaccinated helps the Lyft community of drivers and riders, and we’re grateful to the Biden administration for prioritizing access,” said John Zimmer, the co-founder and president of Lyft.