All the vaccines in the world won’t protect us from COVID-19 if the most vulnerable communities can’t get to them.
Lyft wants to help. The ride-hailing firm said today it’s launching a new campaign that will improve access to vaccines for at-risk populations in the United States by providing free or discounted rides to vaccination sites. The campaign will be funded by a number of healthcare companies and corporate sponsors led by JPMorgan Chase and Anthem Inc., along with the charity group United Way.
The target goal, Lyft says, is 60 million rides, which will be subsidized by the participating corporate and nonprofit partners and facilitated through Lyft’s social impact initiative, LyftUp, along with Lyft Healthcare, the unit that already helps Medicare and Medicaid patients get rides to and from hospitals and doctor visits.
“This is an opportunity to use our collective strength to mobilize on a massive scale and serve our communities,” John Zimmer, Lyft’s cofounder and president, said in a statement. “We cannot let lack of transportation be a factor in determining whether people have access to healthcare.”
The first shipments of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine began this week, following last week’s rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. With supplies limited, much discussion has revolved around who should get access to the vaccine first. U.S. public health officials have said healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities should be prioritized, but many are concerned that the allocation of vaccine resources won’t be fair or equitable within communities. It’s a global problem, too: One recent study suggested that more than 22% of the world’s population may not have access to the vaccines until 2022.
Through its campaign, Lyft says it hopes to offer subsidized rides to sites as soon as the vaccines become available. Other companies and organizations that have signed on to participate include Centene Corporation, Modern Health, One Medical, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, National Urban League, and the National Action Network.