Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft will offer free rides to get the COVID-19 vaccine through July 4, the White House announced, amid nationwide efforts to ramp up inoculation efforts over the next two months.
The vaccines are widely seen as the sole means to achieve pre-pandemic life, lifting mask mandates and restrictions on public gatherings and businesses.
“People will be able 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,” the White House said in a May 11 statement. “By helping Americans get a free ride to a vaccination site, Lyft and Uber are eliminating a potential barrier” to vaccinations.
President Joe Biden is expected to make a full announcement later today, according to the White House. Both Uber and Lyft companies confirmed the development to NJBIZ.
“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,” said Uber spokesperson Dara Khosrowshahi.
New Jersey’s goal is to fully vaccinate 4.7 million adults by June 30, a key step to lifting business restrictions. According to the latest data from the New Jersey Department of Health dashboard, a total of more than 3.6 million adults have been vaccinated.
To reach those final 1 million shots, the Murphy administration earlier this month rolled out “Operation Jersey Summer,” an aggressive campaign to reach the arms of remaining adults, many hesitant and on the fence about getting the vaccine.
That plan includes hundreds of “boots on the ground” that’ll knock on doors across the state to promote the vaccine and available sites, coordination with local religious and community leaders, free beer from participating breweries for those who get a first shot in May, walk-ins accepted at the six vaccination mega-centers, dosage supply to local officials and medical offices, and hyperfocus on some of the most urban neighborhoods where vaccination rates have lagged the most across the state.
Now the question stands on how many children aged 12 to 15 in the state can get vaccinated, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s bid to vaccinate people in this age group.
“[F]ormal plans to guide both parents and guardians, and practitioners, are being finalized by the Department [of Health] and we anticipate being able to transition to vaccinating eligible adolescents as soon as Pfizer receives its emergency use authorization,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a May 10 press conference.
“This fight doesn’t just end magically when we get to 4.7 million,” the governor said. “The 12-15 year-olds will be added as a separate category. The 4.7 million is 16 and up, we will then have other objectives with the 12-to-15.”
According to the governor, health officials are looking at partnering with schools, pediatricians, local pharmacies or one of the state’s six vaccine mega-sites.
“We are also going to remain focused on ensuring that parents have access to information,” the governor said. “The broad-based outreach campaign … will be a large part of this. But we know we can also undertake this by working directly with, and within, our schools.”