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Rides for vaccinations: County, Uber partner to provide trasportation for shot-seekers

  • Leland Cockcroft is vaccinated for COVID-19 during drive-through vaccinations with Premiere Medical Group in Mountain View in May. Hawaii County’s Mass Transit Agency announced Tuesday it is partnering with Uber to provide access to rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination appointments in as part of the county’s Hele-On Get Your Shot! campaign. (Kelsey Walling/Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

Hawaii County’s Mass Transit Agency is partnering with Uber to provide access to rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination appointments in as part of the county’s Hele-On Get Your Shot! campaign.

“This is to encourage people to use transportation to get people connected to vaccination by removing the barrier of how to get to a vaccination appointment,” said Interim Mass Transit Administrator John Andoh on Tuesday.

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Andoh said the county will not incur any expenses related to the program.

Nationally, Uber has pledged to provide up to 10 million free or discounted rides to help people get vaccinated, particularly “communities of color that have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic,” as the company said in December.

“We’re proud to support transit agencies like Hele-On as they continue to facilitate vaccinations and positive health outcomes by leveraging Uber’s on-demand platform,” said Teague Kirkpatrick, Uber Customer Success Manager in a media release.

Andoh said the partnership was created to promote the use of vaccine transportation as an extension of the family of public transit offered by Hele-On and the County of Hawaii Mass Transit Agency.

The Uber program expands access to vaccine clinics around the island. The Hele-On Demand Response bus service and Paratransit service also provide rides.

“For many people in communities across the county, transportation is a constant barrier to getting to their doctor’s visits, grocery stores, and other appointments. This barrier was made even more complex by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the populations most in need of the vaccine are unable to get to their vaccine appointment,” Andoh said. “We are ensuring that through Hele-On, transportation is not a barrier to the COVID-19 vaccine on island and we are excited to work with Uber to facilitate this partnership.”

Andoh said trips to both private pharmacies and county-sponsored vaccine clinics will be eligible for the Uber program.

“The main role of transportation is providing access to services, resources and essential destinations. We are focused on offering more ways that county residents can access transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments by working with Uber,” added Mayor Mitch Roth.

Participants can get access to up to four free rides (up to $15 each trip) to and from vaccination appointments. Any amount over $15 will be automatically charged to the user’s debit or credit card on file with the user’s Uber account.

To use the Uber price estimator visit: uber.com/global/en/price-estimate.

Ando said a voucher link to receive a voucher to book COVID-19 vaccine trips (t.uber.com/heleonhawaiicounty) is still being established and should be up and running in the coming days. Details will be posted at: heleonbus.org.

To learn where you can get a vaccination in Hawaii County, visit coronavirus-response-county-of-hawaii hawaiicountygis.hub.arcgis.com/pages/vaccine-information.

The Department of Health on Tuesday reported 143,677 or 86% individuals 12 years and older on Hawaii Island have initiated a first dose with 121,28 or 73% completing the vaccination.

Several areas, including Hilo, Pepeekeo, Papaikou, Honokaa and Hawi, have at least 70.1% of the eligible population vaccinated. The urban Kailua-Kona area is reporting vaccination of 45.1% to 60% of the eligible population. Ocean View has the lowest rate of vaccination with 35% or less of the population inoculated to date.

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The Uber promotion will run islandwide through December 31, 2021, or while funding lasts.

For more information about Hele-On, please call (808) 961-8744, TDD: 711 though the relay service, email heleonbus@hawaiicounty.gov, visit www.heleonbus.org or find Hele On Bus on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or You Tube.

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