Uber plans to offer free rides to Walgreens stores and clinics in socially vulnerable communities in an effort to remove transportation barriers that could stand in the way of people getting to COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
In announcing their partnership on Tuesday, Walgreens and Uber said the program will kick off as early as next week in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and El Paso before expanding to other cities.
“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 hardest by the pandemic,” said John Standley, president of Walgreens, in a statement.
Free rides in underserved areas
The companies say they will work with charitable partners, including the National Urban league, to identify people who need the rides. After receiving confirmation of a Walgreens vaccine appointment, consumers will receive an email inviting them to book a free Uber ride if they’re eligible for one.
The free ride program is part of a commitment Uber made in December to offer 10 million free or discounted rides during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“Transportation should never be a barrier to health care,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “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.”
Walgreens is among the pharmacies that will receive direct shipments of COVID-19 vaccines under an order from the Biden administration. Starting Friday, Walgreens will start administering vaccines to high-priority groups, including older Americans and those with pre-existing medical conditions, at certain stores in more than a dozen states.