Uber Technologies Inc.
will make all rides to and from vaccination sites free until July 4 under a new partnership with the White House.
White House Covid-19 coordinator
detailed the new steps in a Tuesday call with governors as part of the Biden administration’s effort to meet a target of 70% of the U.S. adult population getting at least one vaccine dose by July 4.
also met virtually with a group of governors Tuesday afternoon to discuss vaccination efforts.
The administration will provide data on about 80,000 vaccination sites to Lyft and Uber as part of the transportation partnership, a senior administration official said.
While the companies were already providing free or discounted rides in some circumstances, the rides will now be free to anyone in the U.S. who is going to a vaccination site to get the shot, and Lyft and Uber will promote the rides to and from tens of thousands of vaccination sites through their apps. The feature will launch in the next two weeks and run until July 4, when Mr. Biden has aimed to have enough people vaccinated to allow for safer Independence Day gatherings.
More on the Covid-19 Pandemic
The actions come as demand for vaccines has declined in recent weeks, prompting the administration to shift its allocation method to states as governments and private companies explore ways to incentivize people to get vaccinated.
Mr. Zients said that while the country was making good progress, “not everyone has had the chance to get vaccinated yet. That’s why 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.”
Mr. Biden will also make billions of dollars in additional funding available to states to aid their vaccination outreach efforts, federal officials said, which will be allocated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law in March. State, local and community leaders can use FEMA assistance to fund the cost of in-person, phone and online outreach to promote the availability of the vaccinations and provide information about their safety and efficacy. The money will also be dedicated toward making vaccinations available to people through their employers, doctors or other healthcare providers.
In addition, the White House on Tuesday announced partnerships between vaccine providers and community colleges to provide on-site vaccinations for students, staff and local residents. Outreach will run throughout May and June for the sites hosted by retail pharmacies.
Uber and Lyft said they won’t be paid by the federal government to ferry riders to and from the vaccination sites. Tuesday’s arrangement could nonetheless help the companies bring back riders to their platforms, as well as encourage new users to sign up. The pandemic crushed the companies’ ride-hailing operations, and business hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.
The transportation partnership will expand on efforts already under way to aid with rides to vaccination appointments through Lyft and Uber. The ride-sharing giants had partnered in recent months with pharmacies and other groups to provide free or discounted transportation in certain areas, with an emphasis on low-income, uninsured and vulnerable communities.
Both companies lobbied to become a part of Covid-19 relief efforts. Lyft executives met with Mr. Biden’s transition team in December and shared their analysis of public data on the millions of at-risk people who lack healthcare transportation benefits or have limited public transportation.
The White House reached out to Lyft and Uber about possibly offering free rides to vaccination sites for all Americans last week, according to the official, who said both companies agreed to the plan and will work in the coming weeks to integrate the vaccine program into their apps.
“Helping more Americans get vaccinated helps the Lyft community of drivers and riders, and we’re grateful to the Biden administration for prioritizing access,”
co-founder and president of Lyft, said.
said the move would deepen the company’s previous global commitments to facilitating access to coronavirus 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,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said.
An average of two million doses have been administered each day during the past week, down from a mid-April peak of 3.38 million, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 34.8% of the total U.S. population is now fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Many states are seeing vaccine appointments go unclaimed, prompting some to cut back on vaccination orders because of waning demand. Iowa declined 75,280 of 105,300 doses offered to its counties for the week of May 10, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Public Health said.
—Preetika Rana contributed to this article.
Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com and Stephanie Armour at email@example.com
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