Wed, 12 May 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: Uber, PayPal and Walgreens pharmacies have set up an $11-million Vaccine Access Fund to provide free rides to COVID-19 vaccination locations in the U.S. for people who do not have access to transportation.

The fund has been set up in response to calls by the U.S. administration for companies to join pandemic efforts, the companies said in a joint letter to US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Reuters reported.

"The Vaccine Access Fund will draw on the innovative tools developed by our respective firms to expand vaccine access and build upon the Biden-Harris administration's efforts (to fight the pandemic)," the companies wrote.

The three companies also said they are accepting donations for the free service via the PayPal and Uber apps and are open to contributions from corporate donors.

The Vaccine Access Fund will be managed by U.S. non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which will choose communities in need of free ride services, as well as local partners, for carrying out the program, the companies noted.

Experts have cited lack of transportation as a major roadblock to equal vaccine access, with studies showing that low-income and Black communities with low car ownership rates and poor public transport facilities have fewer healthcare options.

In a bid to get more drivers and passengers back on the road, Uber has separately promised to provide 10 million free or discounted rides to vaccination sites around the world.

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