(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) announced the launch of the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign. This program gives residents who have transportation challenges free rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites in Northwest Louisiana with Lyft. Residents can access this transportation assistance or learn more by dialing 211. This effort is made possible through a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation in partnership with United Way Worldwide and the Louisiana Association of United Ways.
As parish, state, and federal officials continue scaling up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign will help more eligible people get immunized to protect their health and the health of the community. Rides are provided through Lyft ride credits, which can be activated on a Lyft smartphone app or by calling 211 to schedule a ride, subject to Lyft availability.
“Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to everyone 16 and older in Louisiana, we want to help as many people as possible get their shot,” said Michael Tipton, President of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. “Unfortunately, lack of transportation prevents many people who would otherwise sign up from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s why we’re proud to support the Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign and make free rides available to and from vaccine appointments for those who need them. Vaccination not only improves health and lives, it’s how we can get back to the things and the people we love.”
UWNWLA 211 serves help seekers from the surrounding 10 parish area and works as part of the Louisiana 211 Statewide Network. 211 Call Specialists are trained to address the root causes of a caller’s problem by locating available resources in their communities – whether it’s transportation, food, disaster assistance, crisis counseling, health care or housing. Since the COVID-19 response effort began in March 2020, Louisiana 211 has partnered with the Louisiana Department of Health to serve the state’s hotline for general COVID-19 questions, which has so far helped more than 165,000 Louisianans get COVID-19 specific information and assistance for their needs.
“The Ride United for Vaccine Access Campaign is one of the many COVID inspired programs that our community can be proud of. Often times, public transportation is not always the best option for our most vulnerable population,” said United Way of Northwest Louisiana President & CEO, Bruce Willson. “We are proud to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and Lyft to provide a solution to an unmet community need. “
As of Tuesday, April 20, the program is underway in Shreveport-Bossier City and surrounding areas. Those outside of the immediate area should visit lyft.com/vaccine-access and click “Get a ride” to see if there are eligible services in their area.
“Time and again, we at LA 211 have worked to give personalized attention to the elderly and vulnerable populations, ensuring that they have information to take effective steps to stay well as we navigate COVID-19,” says Sarah Berthelot, President & CEO of the Louisiana Association of United Ways. Now, 211 is able to provide transportation help through the Ride United Vaccine Access effort to provide equitable access for better health.
About United Way of Northwest Louisiana 211
United Way of Northwest Louisiana 211 provides free and confidential information and referral services to all living within the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Services can be accessed by dialing 211 or texting a zip code to 898-211.
About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation works each day to improve the health and lives of Louisianans by empowering everyday people to do extraordinarily good. By building and funding coalitions of friends, families and neighbors, the Foundation hopes to build a healthier Louisiana, particularly for its children. The foundation is funded solely by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana but is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. In 2020, Blue Cross and the Blue Cross Foundation invested more than $14 million in Louisiana’s communities and nonprofits with programs and services reaching 6.4 million people.
Lyft was founded in 2012 and is one of the largest transportation networks in the United States and Canada. As the world shifts away from car ownership to transportation-as-a-service, Lyft is at the forefront of this massive societal change. Our transportation network brings together rideshare, bikes, scooters, car rentals and transit all in one app. We are singularly driven by our mission: to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.