Uber Turns From Taxis to Nurses With Home Delivery of Flu Shots

PHOTO: Registered Nurse Kate Dicker gave Kevin Flynn a flu shot as part of the UberHEALTH pilot program.Alysaa Greenberg Photography
Registered Nurse Kate Dicker gave Kevin Flynn a flu shot as part of the UberHEALTH pilot program.

Ride-service app Uber isn’t content sticking to the world of taxis and limousines, so they’re now working on changing public health.

In time for flu season Uber launched a pilot program today called UberHEALTH. In connection with the healthcare service originally developed by Google, Vaccine Finder, the program aims to make flu prevention as easy for users as opening their front door.

On Thursday UberHEALTH temporarily launched in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. The service allowed users to have a flu prevention pack and even a flu shot delivered to their front door.

The shot is not just dropped off, but is administered by a registered nurse. During the pilot program, the cost for flu protection is free and for each shot ordered the company has offered to donate $5 to the Red Cross vaccination efforts.

Public health experts say the one-day pilot program will likely not make a measurable difference in flu shot rates this season, but that an expanded program could encourage more people to get the important flu shot.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner called the program “Uber-wonderful” and said anything that encourages people to get their flu shot is a good thing.

“We’re trying to reach the entire U.S. population,” said Schaffner. “There’s not going to be one solution.”

Schaffner said in recent years health officials have offered flu shots at more locations in an effort to have nearly everyone over the age of 6 months to be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Flu shots are now available at some airports, drive-thru vaccination programs and pharmacies.

By reaching people at home the UberHEALTH program could have a lasting impact, since getting the shot just one time will make people more likely to get the flu shot in following years, he added.

According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, only 41.5 percent of adults over the age of 18 were vaccinated against the seasonal flu during the 2012-2013 flu season. The rate was slightly higher at 45 percent for children over the age of 6 months during the same time period.