President Joe Biden has announced a deal with Uber and Lyft aimed at increasing access to COVID vaccines. The partnership will be ongoing between May 24-July 4, and it will provide free—or mostly free—rides to consumers traveling to and from vaccination sites.
Biden has made it an administration goal to inoculate at least 70% of the adult U.S. population against COVID-19 by July 4. The deal with Uber and Lyft aims to assist in this goal by providing free transportation to Americans without easy access to transportation of their own. The deal will cover up to $15 worth of cost, each way, for people heading to vaccination sites. The ride-sharing apps will also point users toward nearby locations with available appointments.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 154 million people, or approximately 46.4% of Americans, have received at least one dose of vaccine since the first vaccines were authorized in late 2020. More than 117 million, or approximately 35.4% of Americans, are fully inoculated against COVID-19.
The deal has received pushback from labor groups, who take issue with Uber and Lyft’s labor practices and reliance on gig work. Biden has made a name for himself as a pro-labor leader, and the COVID vaccine deal with Uber and Lyft seems to go against this stance.
Lack of transportation has been tagged by the CDC as a major culprit in preventing people from seeking vaccines. The CDC recommends that local governments join with “community and faith-based organizations, Medicaid and Medicare programs, transportation companies, and ride-hail services” to more successfully inoculate their communities, according to Wired.
Some cities and states are already offering free transportation to and from vaccination sites, but Biden’s deal with Uber and Lyft should extend those efforts to every state in the U.S.
One of the most vulnerable groups may not see much benefit from the deal with Uber and Lyft, however. The majority of elderly Americans have never used a ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, and many are hesitant to change that now. Biden’s deal aims to reach this group, along with any other vulnerable community that needs assistance reaching vaccination sites, but it has yet to be determined how successful this effort will be.