While the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more available across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted a number of barriers have hindered equitable access in communities of color. In order to address those concerns, Uber and Walgreens have announced a partnership.
Walgreens has been selected by the CDC to administer COVID-19 vaccines in 15 states and jurisdictions under a federal program focusing on high-risk, socially vulnerable populations. Those locations include Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, New York City, Chicago, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
The pharmacy retailer, which is owned by Deerfield-based Walgreens Boots Alliance, is partnering with Uber to make it easier to connect residents with vaccine clinics by providing free transportation and providing other services. According to the president of Walgreen, John Standley, released a statement saying, “By combining Walgreens deep experience in community care with Uber’s transportation technology and logistics expertise, we will take bold action to address vaccine access and hesitancy among those hit the hardest by the pandemic.”
The two companies will roll out several initiatives over the coming months, including:
- Free transportation to Walgreens stores and offsite vaccine clinics
- One-click access to pre-scheduled rides on Uber when a Walgreens vaccination appointment is made
- New in-app features designed to connect people, including active drivers, delivery drivers, and freight carriers using Uber, Uber Eats, or Uber Freight with vaccines
- New education programs with the National Urban League to address vaccine hesitancy
According to Walgreens, nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walgreens pharmacy. The company has recently expanded different models of care to ensure that delivery of vaccines to underserved and rural areas, like mobile and off-site clinics.
Vaccinations will be available in Walgreens stores beginning February 12 for eligible individuals based on state and jurisdiction guidelines. It’s likely healthcare workers, people age 65 and older, and individuals with pre-existing conditions will be included.
In a press release, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, “Transportation should never be a barrier to health care. We look forward to building on this exciting new partnership with Walgreens, harnessing the power of the Uber platform to help connect more people with vaccines, as we all work together to help end this pandemic.”