President Biden said Tuesday that Uber and Lyft, two of the largest ridesharing in the country, would offer free rides to vaccination sites from May 24. This agreement is designed to help him achieve his goal of fully vaccinating 160 million adults by July 4th.
Mr Biden said the ride-sharing initiative would last until then.
In a meeting with a group of six governors from states such as Ohio, Utah, and Maine, he also outlined other initiatives, including setting up vaccination sites at community colleges and another to send FEMA officials across the country to encourage residents to get a shot. The announcement marked an aggressive new phase in the government’s efforts to address vaccine hesitation and expand access.
“We will be able to take a serious step towards normalcy by Independence Day,” said Biden, referring to a benchmark he set in March. “And there is still a lot to do to get there. But I think we can get there.”
Although around 152 million people in the United States had received at least one vaccine by Monday, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of vaccination has slowed in recent weeks.
Experts say they expected a slowdown, but vaccine reluctance – in part due to an 11-day hiatus in administering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine – will remain a significant barrier. Only a small percentage of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated say they definitely will, according to recent polls.
Some governors, including West Virginia’s Jim Justice, have begun experimenting with incentives that might influence reluctant or disinterested Americans despite vaccinating officials are still trying to find out the details of the program. In New York, officials are offering free train and subway tickets with vaccinations.
The governors, who met the president virtually on Tuesday, had their own ideas. Maine Governor Janet Mills announced to Mr. Biden that the state will be offering L. L. Bean coupons, free fishing and hunting licenses, and tickets to local sporting events as incentives.
“We call this’ your shot to get outside,” said Ms. Mills. “Oh, it’s cheesy, I know, but we know that during the pandemic, the people of Maine took refuge in relief and Mother Nature. “
Mr. Biden seemed amused by the idea and replied, “I suspect this will probably work.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the Ohio National Guard has set up small vaccination stations in nursing homes across the state. Utah Governor Spencer Cox said pop-up clinics were popping up in churches and health officials were working with clergy to deliver information about the vaccines to parishioners.
Mr. Cox also commended the Food and Drug Administration’s move to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12-15: “Mr. President, we’re really good at having kids here, so we’re excited to have this opportunity, ”he said.
In New York, officials are looking even further afield for potential buyers for their allocation of cans. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday that the state was waiving residency requirements for vaccination in New York City, meaning tourists from around the country and around the world could come and get vaccinated for free.
The move was first suggested by Mayor Bill de Blasio as a way to increase tourism, and a vAccine Pop-up Clinic in Times Square already serves tourists. More locations in places popular with tourists are expected to follow.
“We had historic tourism levels before the pandemic, 67 million tourists in a single year,” said de Blasio on Tuesday. “We want this to come back and I think it’s just a smart thing to roll out the red carpet, welcome people back and say if you need to be vaccinated we want to help you.”