Uber and Lyft are asking the incoming Biden administration for the opportunity to play a larger part in the national coronavirus vaccine rollout.
The companies are offering to drive Americans to get their jabs for free – and are lobbying for their drivers to be given early access, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Ride-share firms have seen revenue drop during the pandemic due to restrictions that closed restaurants and bars and limited travel and gatherings.
Not only could transporting people to health clinics and mass vaccination sites help kick-start their businesses but it could also speed up the rollout, which has moved at a sluggish pace.
Megan Callahan, Lyft’s vice president of healthcare, said company executives met with the President-elect’s transition team in December.
She told The Journal that Lyft shared research on the millions of people in the U.S. who have limited access to public transportation or health-care transportation benefits.
Callahan estimates that 16 million people currently won’t have a way to reach vaccination sites.
‘What we want to speak with them about is that there are existing vehicles that the Biden administration will have to ensure that people that need it can get to their vaccine appointments,’ she told CBS News.
Uber is also seeking access to vaccines for its drivers.
CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris that she hopes ride-share employees will be included in the next wave of inoculations.
‘We are advocating for rideshare drivers and delivery people to receive early access vaccinations’ because they are essential workers, she wrote, according to the letter seen by CBS News.
In addition, Khosrowshahi wrote that the company could help provide access to underserved communities.
‘We also believe that we can use our technology and reach to remove transportation barriers faced by individuals who will need to travel to their vaccination appointments, especially those in higher-risk groups and in communities of color,’ the letter read.
The company has also said it is willing to ferry people to vaccination sites for free.
‘Transportation should never be a barrier to getting the COVID-19 vaccine,’ Julia Paige, Uber’s chief of social impact, told The Journal.
On Tuesday, Uber announced it was partnering with the manufacture of one of the available vaccines, Moderna, and would provide information about the safety of the shot in its app.
In the future, the companies hope users can rely on the Uber app to schedule vaccine appointments or reminders.
Last month, Uber pledged 10 million free or discounted rides for people to receive their shots.
Executives for both Uber and Lyft hope that immunizing drivers will help people safer about traveling again and increase the amount
Because there is no single rollout plan under the Trump administration, state officials have had to come up with their own plans.
This has meant variations in who gets vaccinated first and where those vaccines are administered.
As a result, just 11.1 million people have been given at least their first shot as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This figure is well short of the Trump administration’s plan to vaccinate 20 million people by the end fo December 2020.