Breaking down big vaccine barriers: Access to transportation

Access to safe, reliable transportation is a major barrier that many of our neighbors face every day, and it’s one of the top reasons people miss medical appointments. COVID-19 has amplified these challenges in accessing care, including the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thanks to a unique, innovative partnership between United Way and transportation network Lyft, finding transportation to a vaccine appointment is just a phone call away.

An innovative partnership

Through the program, St. Louis area residents can contact United Way 2-1-1, our region’s resource navigation center, to schedule Lyft rides to and from their vaccine appointments. The program, which aims to provide access to thousands of rides to local people over the next year, fills a major transportation gap in our region while bolstering vaccination efforts.

“Access to transportation was one of the top local needs identified in our Community Needs Assessment, and the COVID-19 crisis has only amplified this challenge for many of our neighbors without reliable, safe access to vehicles or public transportation,” said Regina Greer, chief impact officer at United Way of Greater St. Louis. “By leveraging the power of our 2-1-1 navigation center and strong network of partners, we are helping to ensure everyone eligible can get to these crucial COVID-19 vaccine appointments.”

In addition to partnering with United Way, Lyft’s Universal Vaccine Access program partners include Anthem, The Centene Charitable Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, National Urban League, the National Action Network and many others.

“Expanding vaccine access is an important part of helping our neighbors stay safe and helping our entire community on the road to recovery from this crisis,” said Michelle Tucker, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. “It takes strong partnerships to address such a critical need in our community, and we are so grateful to Lyft and our corporate partners for recognizing and joining with us to help bridge the gap.”

Access to critical resources during COVID-19

The new program is the latest effort to help our neighbors gain access to the critical health and human services needed to thrive. 2-1-1 has been there as a key resource for our St. Louis community throughout the COVID-19 crisis, helping local people get connected to mental health supports, food and housing assistance and more.

In total, 2-1-1 received more than 192,000 requests for assistance in 2020, a 54% increase compared to 2019. 2-1-1 helped more than 8,100 people keep food on the table, assisted 17,277 people in accessing healthcare and connected more than 4,100 people to transportation. 2-1-1 also partnered with local agencies to create a COVID-19 hotline, which provided up-to-date information about testing, re-opening guidelines, and much more to help nearly 13,899 people stay safe.

To schedule a Lyft ride for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment or learn more, simply contact United Way 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 (1-800-427-4626) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The program is available to residents of Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois and St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties and St. Louis City in Missouri.

James Taylor
James Taylor