For immediate release: May 5, 2021 (21-117)Spanish
Contact: DOH Communications
Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Information Hotline, 1-800-525-0127
Private partners increase vaccine access by providing free and discounted rides to vaccine appointments
OLYMPIA - The Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System (VACCS) Center has partnered with Lyft, Uber, United Way Worldwide, Washington 211 and Sea Mar Community Health Centers to provide access to free and discounted rides to vaccine appointments for people with transportation challenges.
“Our priority is to make it easy for all Washingtonians, regardless of resources, to overcome barriers to transportation when trying to get vaccinated,” said VACCS Director Dan Laster.
Now, VACCS is expanding that offering and is partnering with Washington 211 and United Way Worldwide through their Ride United partnership with Lyft to provide access to rides to appointments.
“Access to reliable transportation represents a major barrier to healthcare for many Washingtonians, especially for vulnerable communities,” said Chris Thomas, Senior Director of Public Policy for Western U.S. Lyft. “We're proud to be working with the State, community organizations and our longstanding partners, United Way and Washington 211, to address transportation barriers and support equitable vaccine access for those who need it most.”
In addition, Uber is working with Washington 211, Sea Mar Community Health Centers and at least six other community-based health clinics to provide free vaccination transportation for people who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“We are proud to partner with the Washington State Department of Health VACCS Center to help ensure transportation is not a barrier to vaccines for Washingtonians,” said Caleb Weaver, head of public policy for the Pacific Northwest at Uber. “This partnership is a milestone in our larger commitment to provide ten million free or discounted rides to those in need, and we’re humbled to lend our support.”
These partnerships mean that starting May 10th, people who face transportation barriers and need a ride to get a vaccine can call the state COVID-19 information hotline at 833-VAX-HELP and a hotline specialist will assist in coordinating the rides.
“Washington 211 understands that a lack of transportation options can be a barrier for many Washington residents seeking services but even more so in accessing critical vaccines and we are happy to be able to assist Washington’s efforts to get vaccines to anyone who wants one,” said Tim Sullivan, Statewide Director for Washington 211.
Sea Mar will also be assisting to accommodate ride requests for patients getting vaccinated at Sea Mar clinics and will be coordinating with these clinics across Washington: Country Doctor Community Health Center, Yakima Neighborhood Health Centers, Peninsula Community Health Services, HealthPoint, International Community Health Services, and Unity Care.
“The community health centers in areas where Uber and Lyft operate are thankful for this opportunity to partner. The provision of ride credits to people who want to get vaccinated but have no means of transportation will help in addressing some of the access and equity barriers faced by many who are most at risk,” said Sea Mar Community Health Center Executive Vice President Mary Bartolo.
Anyone in the state experiencing a transportation barrier preventing them from getting a vaccine is considered eligible for this offer while ride credits remain available from our generous partners.
“We are delighted and grateful for these incredible partnerships to help eliminate transportation barriers for fellow Washingtonians most in need,” added Laster.
Governor Jay Inslee established the VACCS Center in January 2021 to unite the Department of Health with the vast resources, capabilities and innovations of the private sector in Washington State. The goal of the VACCS Center is achieving mass vaccination of Washingtonians in a safe, fast, equitable and efficient manner.