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Uber backs vaccine priority for rideshare drivers

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Uber is calling for its drivers to get priority for coronavirus vaccines to help speed the deployment of supplies across the United States./AFP
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Dec 11, 2020 - 05:27 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi on Thursday urged US states to make sure rideshare drivers get quick access to Covid-19 vaccines so they can help with broader distribution plans.

Vaccinated drivers will be able to provide transportation for health care workers and people getting shots, Khosrowshahi said in a letter to the governors of states across the US.

“I encourage you to recognize the essential nature of their work,” he said in the letter.

“I want to ensure these individuals can receive immunizations quickly, easily and for free, and I offer Uber’s assistance to you in making that a reality.”

The letter echoed comment sent by Uber to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in support of a recommendation that rideshare drivers and delivery people be included in an early phase of vaccine allocation.

“Early access to a vaccine would help drivers and delivery people continue to play their essential role while also reducing the risk that they may inadvertently contract, or possibly transmit, the virus,” Khosrowshahi said in written comment to the committee.

He reasoned that efficient vaccine distribution will be a massive logistical challenge that Uber could help with by transporting people as needed and providing reliable information on its smartphone app.

“We also believe that we can use our technology to remove transportation barriers faced by individuals who will need to travel to their vaccination appointments,” he said.

The comments come amid debate on how to allocate scarce virus vaccines set to become available in the United States and which groups should have priority for immunizations.

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