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Health Clinics Have Until Year-End to Use Uber Ride Credits for Covid-19 Vaccinations



Covid-19 vaccines are prepped at a Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic's vaccine event earlier this year. Uber is providing rides for patients to health centers so they can get vaccines or booster shots in their communities. (Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

Direct Relief’s U.S. community health center and free & charitable clinic partners have until the end of December to use Uber ride credits to ease the transportation burden for patients seeking Covid-19 vaccinations.

The credits come via a partnership between Direct Relief and Uber, aimed at reaching people who haven’t been able to get vaccinated because they may have limited access to transportation.

“Lack of access to dependable transportation shouldn’t prevent someone from receiving a vaccine,” said Julia Paige, Uber’s Director of Social Impact. “Our partnership with Direct Relief can help break down transportation barriers in underserved communities and enable those most in need to get vaccinated. This is more important than ever now that vaccines are available to children aged 5 and up.”

Each promo code pays for two UberX or XL rides costing up to $30 per ride, covering up to $60 in round-trip transportation per patient. Uber offered to provide enough credits to bring 200,000 people to be vaccinated and return them home. Health centers have thus far requested and received credits for 131,000 Uber rides, or 65,000 round trips. These were distributed to 237 partner health centers across 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

These local health providers serve communities otherwise lacking access to quality health care. Many in these communities lack their own vehicles, relying instead on public transportation, which may be infrequent, making it harder to get to and from vaccination sites.

In other cases, a family owns one car, used by one parent to go to work while the other stays home to care for children. The Uber credits could be especially useful in this situation now that Covid shots have been authorized for children of ages 5-12, and boosters have been authorized for all adults over age 18.

Direct Relief partners with more than 2,000 community health centers and free & charitable clinics in the United States. These provider partners use Direct Relief’s online ordering system to specify the medicines and medical supplies they need for their patients, and Direct Relief delivers them free of charge.

Direct Relief is committed to equitable access to healthcare. Nationwide, approximately 1,400 community health centers operate 13,000 sites, providing primary and preventive care on a sliding fee scale to nearly 30 million patients each year. More than 91% of these health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and approximately 63% are racial/ethnic minorities.

A flyer with information in Chinese about free rides for vaccinations at North East Medical Services.

North East Medical Services (NEMS) is a community health center operating 13 clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, targeting medically underserved Asian populations. NEMS had provided 464 of its patients with the Uber vouchers as of Nov. 5, said Hilary Djeng, Director of Operations at NEMS.

“The program has worked well for our Daly City clinic and our San Jose clinic, where most of the population are from a younger generation and are used to riding with Uber,” Djeng said. Older populations, such as elderly residents in San Francisco’s Chinatown, are less likely to be familiar with ride-sharing apps, and typically rely on family members to transport them to the clinics, she said.

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