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Uber, Walgreens team up to get people to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

The partnership will give people in underserved communities free rides to Walgreens vaccine clinics.

James Martin/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Uber and Walgreens on Tuesday unveiled a partnership that aims to give people in underserved communities free rides to stores and vaccine clinics hosted by the pharmacy chain. 

"Transportation should never be a barrier to health care," said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a release. "We look forward to building on this exciting new partnership with Walgreens, harnessing the power of the Uber platform to help connect more people with vaccines, as we all work together to help end this pandemic."

The transportation program with Walgreens will begin in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and El Paso, Texas, and then expand to more cities. It's part of Uber's larger commitment to provide up to 10 million free or discounted rides to vaccinations, according to the release. 

The partnership will also include ways for people to pre-schedule Uber rides when they've made a Walgreens vaccine appointment and an educational program to address vaccine hesitancy. Uber is also working on in-app features to help its drivers and delivery workers verify their essential worker status at Walgreens and other vaccination sites. 

Khosrowshahi and Rina Shah, group vice president of pharmacy operations at Walgreens, appeared on CBS This Morning on Tuesday to discuss the partnership. During the interview, Khosrowshahi said people will need an Uber account to access free transportation to Walgreens. 

In January, President Joe Biden signed executive orders to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine delivery and get as many people vaccinated as possible, with the goal of seeing 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency. So far, roughly 42 million vaccines have been administered in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials say it's important for people to continue following guidelines in place to slow the spread of the virus, such as wearing a mask, while experts learn more about the protection the COVID-19 vaccines provide.