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United Way Blog

United Way’s Ride United Helping People in 155 Towns Access COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 continues, United Way is working alongside partners, local 211s and United Ways across the U.S. to develop and implement innovative response and recovery solutions. That includes ensuring that transportation is available for those who want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but can't get to their appointments. 

In December 2020, United Way joined forces with Lyft, Anthem, JPMorgan Chase, and other donors to create the Vaccine Access Campaign, helping people get free or reduced rides to local vaccine sites. To date, local United Way and 211 teams in more than 155 cities and towns across 26 states have taken on resources from generous national and local partners to support the campaign.

This is an expansion of our Ride United Transportation Access Program, which closes transportation gaps by providing free and reduced rides to help people access essential medical services, obtain healthy food, get to job interviews and more. The program is the result of a three-year partnership between Lyft, United Way and 211, the 24-7 resource that connects people to local information and resources.

As the pandemic continues to evolve, we want to be sure clients in the communities we serve know about this resource – and how to access it. If you or someone you know is in need of a vaccine ride, please visit: https://www.lyft.com/vaccine-access for the most up-to-date information on where the program is operating. Rides will be available while supplies last.

Who is eligible?

  • Client has vaccine appointment scheduled (if vaccination site requires advance scheduling)
  • Other transportation options (like Non-Emergency Medical Transit, provided by Medicare Medicaid) are not available to the client
  • Ride is needed in one of the communities providing this service
  • Client is 18+ years old or accompanied by a guardian 18+ years old
  • Compliance with Lyft's Health Safety Requirements, which include wearing a face covering

Special thanks to our national partners: Anthem Inc., Anthem Foundation, Centene Charitable Foundation, Equitable Foundation, Lyft, Merck, Palo Alto Networks, and Z Zurich Foundation, and to statewide partners Regence BCBS of Utah, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation as funders of this campaign, alongside numerous local donors.   

Here are a few examples of how this vaccine access program is making a difference in American communities:

In Atlanta:

Jane had an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, but she was afraid she was going to need to cancel after her car broke down. She was not sure if she could get her car fixed, and it was two days before her appointment. The vaccine appointment could not be missed because it was needed for work. Jane called 211 with the hope of getting assistance with getting to her vaccine appointment. The 211 specialist assessed the situation and was able to offer her a ride to her vaccine appointment. Jane was also encouraged to call 211 again at the time of her 2nd appointment if she still needed transportation assistance. During the follow up Jane was very grateful of the rides received. She was able to get vaccinated and met her employment requirement. “Thank you, 211 & Ride United, for this good community service.”

In Denver:

Douglas is a veteran who has been trying to get in for a COVID-19 vaccination. After several unsuccessful attempts, he was finally able to get one scheduled on short notice with thirty minutes to make it to the appointment.  Douglas called 211 and was able to get a ride scheduled and he was picked up within five minutes and was able to make it to his first COVID-19 vaccination.

In Baltimore:

Rebecca is 74 years old and lives in a senior complex. She stated that she was not going to get vaccinated and even passed up the chance to get it done in her building. Rebecca said that after she saw other people were getting it and realized she wanted to get things back to normal, she decided to get it done. A friend had scheduled the appointment online, but soon it was realized a ride was needed to get there. The local Health Department told her to call 211 as her scheduled appointment was not at an approved location to receive transportation paid for by them. Rebecca soon found she was eligible for the  program and could use it for both vaccinations. Her experience was described as perfect. Rebecca was grateful to get her first and 2nd dose because of this service.

 

If you need help, call 211 or visit 211.org. Trained, caring operators will connect you with local, available resources to help you solve your problems.

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