For a limited time, Uber is now offering free rides to and from several coronavirus vaccination sites in East Baton Rouge Parish to people who can't get there themselves.
The initiative is one of two things Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced Wednesday as part of her administration’s ongoing effort to address to address racial and geographic disparities in vaccinations. The other was a partnership with Relief Telemed, a local health care organization that will help other groups and organizations host vaccine pop-up clinics in the days ahead.
Broome said Wednesday that 15.9% of the city-parish’s residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s Department of Health.
“That’s too low for me,” she told reporters. “(But) when we have opportunities like this, I see progress taking place. Right now, we’re closing the equity gap. All these efforts we’re taking help us increase the number of vaccinations we have.”
Through the city-parish’s partnership with Uber, a mobile ride-hailing app, 12,000 free rides are being offered to eight approved vaccine locations until Sept. 30. Those sites include:
- Baton Rouge Clinic and Woman’s Hospital
- Baton Rouge General
- Ochsner Baton Rouge
- Our Lady of the Lake
- Care South Medical and Dental
- Open Health Care Clinic
- St. Gabriel Health Clinic
- Southeast Community Health Clinic
Patients must obtain the special promo code for that free ride while making their appointment and disclose the transportation barriers they have. The free promo offer cannot be combined with other offers and can only be used for one round trip.
Churches, community organizations and any other group looking to host a pop-up vaccination clinic in an underserved community can get Relief Telemed's help. They can do so by emailing the city-parish at email@example.com. Approximately 100 or more vaccines will be offered at each clinic depending on the demand, officials said.
The first pop-up clinic is happening Thursday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Greater Mt. Canaan Baptist Church in north Baton Rouge.
“We wanted to do something where people could walk and get vaccines around here,” said the Rev. Levie Wright Jr., the church’s pastor. “Thank God for answering prayer. The members of this church have been concerned about getting vaccinations for this community.”
Broome expressed worries about the Easter weekend, a time when many families and friends like to gather and socialize. Spikes in cases have followed some other big holidays.
“We still have to be vigilant in our fight against COVID-19,” the mayor said. “A number of variants are still emerging so we’re not out of the woods.”
Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards relaxed some of the state’s restrictions around social distancing and capacity rates at bars and restaurants. But he kept the mandate to wear masks in place.