HOUSTON – Walgreens and Uber are teaming up to bring some of Houston’s most vulnerable residents the COVID-19 vaccine.
We’ve all heard the numbers. Underserved — typically minority communities are the hardest-hit victims of COVID-19 with the least amount of access to proper healthcare or the vaccine. The reasons are complex.
“With that gap in health literacy, with certainly a distrust in the health system, with a limitation to access to care, it certainly overlaps with what we’re seeing now with covid vaccine administration and access,” said La Vonia Cannon, a licensed pharmacist and area healthcare supervisor for Walgreens in Houston.
Access to the vaccine is key but so is being able to get to a location to receive it. That is another challenging issue referred to as vaccine equity.
“Transportation is certainly one of those barriers,” Cannon said.
On Tuesday, the pharmacy chain announced a partnership with Uber to give rides to people living in underserved communities within the city. Uber will take them to receive the vaccine at the Walgreens closest to their neighborhood.
“In some situations, it may be where they’re able to get a free or discounted ride,” Cannon said. “That’ll be determined by some partner organizations that we’re going to work with within the community.”
Uber is pledging an initial 50,000 free or discounted rides to Walgreens in their initial rollout in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and El Paso. Cannon believes the partnership will be a big boost for a hard-hit community but said more needs to be done.
“What we need to focus on as a community is making sure that everyone gets protected by knowing that the vaccine is available,” she said. “Where they can get it, and certainly eliminating any barriers.”
Requesting a ride should be fairly easy. Patients will need to go online to Walgreen’s website or to their app and find the link to Uber. They’ll be able to make their reservation there.
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