Biden promotes Lyft, Uber plan to provide free rides to vaccination sites

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced support on Tuesday for an effort by Lyft and Uber to provide free rides for people traveling to get a Covid-19 vaccine as the administration ramps up efforts to motivate the hesitant.

The ride sharing companies will begin promoting the locations of vaccination centers in their apps and provide instructions for how to redeem a free ride, the White House said today in a statement. While the companies have already provided free and discounted rides to some users, the new promotion will apply to anyone seeking a vaccine and begin in the next two weeks and last through July 4.

The move is part of an effort by the administration to make getting a vaccine as simple and convenient as possible in hopes it will encourage more Americans to get the shot. Demand for the vaccine has been slowing, with 59 percent of the population having already received at least one dose. Biden has set the goal of having 70 percent adults with at least their first dose by July 4.

Biden held a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors Tuesday to talk about creative ways their states have tried to reach the unvaccinated. The federal government has been shifting away from a model focused on mass vaccination centers and to more targeted distribution utilizing retail pharmacies, doctor’s offices and mobile vaccination units.

"If we will succeed, we're going to be able to take a serious step toward return to normalcy by Independence Day," Biden told the governors of reaching his 70 percent vaccination goal.

Along with getting more Americans vaccinated, Biden said he also wants to get vaccine doses to other countries. He said his administration will help other nations model similar programs as those being used in the U.S. to get shots into arms. He estimated that 40 percent of world leaders have called him asking for help.

"I promise you we're going to have enough vaccine for every single American, but we are going to be engaged in working with other countries," Biden said.

At the meeting, Biden also announced a program for community colleges to set up vaccination sites for students, staff and the general public through June. There will also be additional funding available for states to conduct phone banks, door-to-door canvassing, and pop-up vaccination sites in workplaces and churches.