Big Companies Offer Vaccine Transportation Help

By: - April 13, 2021 12:00 am

Linda Busby was one of a group of older adults who were given a ride to the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Mississippi, earlier this month to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Three companies announced this week a new initiative to offer free rides to people who don’t have transportation. Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press

Uber, PayPal and Walgreens have launched an $11 million effort to offer free rides to people who can’t get to COVID-19 vaccination sites on their own.

The Vaccine Access Fund will be managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national nonprofit community development organization.

The nonprofit will work with local community-based groups to connect people with rides. Uber and PayPal customers also can donate a ride.

The program will focus on people of color and low-income individuals, according to the nonprofit. It will be piloted in Chicago and expand to other parts of the country in the coming weeks.

Residents won’t need a credit card, smartphone or app to participate. Community organizations will request rides on the residents’ behalf and pay for the services with grants from the fund.

Transportation has been a major problem in the nation’s vaccine effort. Millions of older adults and low-income people of color who are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus don’t have cars or don’t live near public transit. Some live in rural areas far from vaccination sites.

Some counties have set up mobile vaccine clinics that travel to underserved areas, and transit agencies also are stepping up to provide free rides to vaccination sites.

Uber launched a separate initiative in partnership with the National Urban League in December to provide 10 million free or discounted rides to and from vaccination sites to communities of color.

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Jenni Bergal

Jenni Bergal covers transportation, infrastructure and cybersecurity for Stateline. She has been a reporter at Kaiser and the Center for Public Integrity.