Working with the rideshare company Lyft, Suffolk County is offering free rides for senior citizens, veterans and people who are driving impaired to get their vaccinations for COVID-19 at county-run sites.
Starting on June 1, seniors who are over the age of 60, veterans and driving impaired residents can contact Suffolk 311 to schedule a pick-up and drop off to receive their inoculations.
The county would like residents to have an “equal ability to get their vaccines,” regardless of whether they have easy access to transportation, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said at a press conference announcing the program. “It’s not only good for them and their health: it’s good for all of us. It means that we will get closer to the numbers and the level of vaccinations we need to say that we have put this virus behind us.”
Suffolk County will be able to schedule and pay for the rides on behalf of residents, according to a Lyft spokeswoman.
The effort is a part of Lyft’s Universal Vaccine Access program, which started in December of 2020. Lyft has created more than 100 such partnerships and is facilitating access to rides throughout the country.
Lyft drivers will not wait outside while residents receive shots. County staff can arrange for pick up and drop off up to seven days in advance when residents call 311.
When seniors, veterans or driving impaired residents need transportation for their shots, county staff can request a ride using Lyft’s Concierge platform, which allows groups to request rides on behalf of those who may not have access to a smartphone or a bank account.
Bellone indicated that the county put out a competitive process to select a partner who could allow residents who don’t have access to a smartphone or who haven’t downloaded an app to secure a ride.
Lyft is committed to helping communities reach an “immunity that is going to get our economy back on track and our community back to normal,” Jen Hensley, head of government relations at Lyft said at the press conference.
Bellone shared his appreciation for the efforts of Senator Chuck Schumer (D).
“Without [Schumer’s] support, we wouldn’t be in a position to be able to offer a program like this,” Bellone said.
Vaccination efforts have helped reduce the spread of the virus, according to a recent interview with Gregson Pigott, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
Lyft has also partnered with the White House.
From May 24 through July 4, anyone going to get their shots can get a ride code through the Lyft app or web site for two free rides during normal pharmacy hours of 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. of up to $15 each.
The county’s partnership with Lyft is the latest effort by Bellone to increase the number of people who have received the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Through a “Lift Your Spirit, Take Your Shot” campaign, residents who are 21 years old and over and who receive their shot at a Suffolk County run site during the month of May will get a ticket that they can redeem at a participating brewery, winery and distillery for a free beer, tasting, glass of wine or cocktail.
Eight businesses are participating in that effort, including Del Vino Vineyards in Northport.