Getting an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine is hard enough, but for some people, that’s only the first of many challenges in the process. A lot of people aren’t fortunate enough to have their own car, or live in a city where they’re able to reach their vaccine appointment on foot or using public transit (if that’s an option they’re comfortable with).
And even if they do have friends, family or neighbors who’d be more than happy to drive them to their appointments under normal circumstances, some may politely (and with a lot of guilt) decline to do so out of concern over the virus and potential transmission.
Now, some people in certain cities who are receiving their vaccine at a Walgreens have another option: taking a free Uber ride to their appointment. Here’s what to know about this new policy.
What to know about the program
While this program was just announced on February 9th, back in December, Uber had committed up to 10 million free or discounted rides to help people get to their vaccine appointments. Now, they’ve teamed up with Walgreens for one part of that, offering people a free ride to Walgreens stores (and their off-site clinics) for their COVID vaccine appointment.
Right now, a trial version of this program is available in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and El Paso, Texas, but will eventually roll out to other cities—and it only is applicable for appointments at Walgreens. According to a statement from Uber, nearly 80% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walgreens pharmacy. (Of course, that doesn’t guarantee we’ll all get appointments there, but it’s kind of an interesting/terrifying fact we thought you might want to know.)
Uber and Walgreens are also getting assistance from the National Urban League to help identify the areas with the most significant transportation barriers to vaccine access.
How to get a free Uber ride to your vaccine appointment
So who can take advantage of this offer? It’s pretty simple: they’ll let you know. Once you have a confirmed appointment at a Walgreens, if the free Uber ride is an option, you’ll also receive an email extending the offer to schedule a ride.
It’s still very early on, and there are a lot of unanswered questions—including whether they’re also offering a free Uber ride home from a vaccine appointment at a Walgreens—but hopefully this will be part of a larger trend towards making sure everyone is able to get vaccinated.
Lyft did recently announce some new tools that people can use to help book rides to and from vaccine appointments for their loved ones, but they’re not free.