Uber Technologies Inc. customers could be getting notifications in the app about more than just the status of their ride. The company is partnering with COVID-19 vaccine developer Moderna Inc. to provide vaccine information, and eventually even help schedule rides to appointments.
The companies announced Tuesday they would collaborate “to help support the uptake” of coronavirus vaccines by sending in-app messages in the U.S., and expect to expand the program to more of Uber’s 78 million monthly users globally in the coming months.
Uber and Moderna said the effort may also include working with public health officials to build ride-scheduling into the booking process and send text reminders for appointments. Last month Uber announced it would provide free or discounted rides to immunization sites for patients.
Although Moderna’s vaccine, like the one manufactured by Pfizer Inc. with BioNTech SE, has been authorized for use in the U.S., the roll out has been slower than hoped. In the U.S., just 36 per cent of the shots already distributed to states have been administered, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
The initial round of shots targeted mainly health care workers in hospitals, while rounds in coming months will target a wider swath of the population in a range of locations. Getting the vaccine delivered to those settings and convincing people to get immunized remains a challenge.
More than two-thirds of American now say they intend to be vaccinated — an increase from September when a Gallup poll found that number at just 50 per cent.
“As part of our commitment to help address COVID-19, Moderna will be working with a coalition of partners to educate, build trust around and increase awareness of the importance of vaccination in those communities significantly impacted by the pandemic,” said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel in a statement.