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Lyft partners with CVS to increase accessibility of the COVID-19 vaccine

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Megan Callahan, vice president Of Lyft Healthcare, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss increasing accessibility of COVID-19 vaccine in vulnerable populations and trends foreseen in the transportation industry post pandemic.

Video Transcript

- Ride sharing giant Lyft is lending a hand. Or in this case, a ride to folks trying to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Let's welcome in Lyft health care vice president Megan Callahan for more on this. Megan, good to see you this morning.

Walk us through what you are precisely doing in helping to get people get their vaccine?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah, happy to share. And thanks for having me here today. We're teaming up with CVS to address equitable vaccine access in vulnerable populations.

We believe that 15 million people will face transportation issues trying to get to vaccine sites. And ensuring access for those who need it most will be the largest logistical challenge of our lifetime. So our partnership with CVS enables us to support equitable vaccine access in communities that need it most.

What your viewers might not know, Brian, is that lift today is one of the largest providers of non-emergency medical transportation in the country. We partner with thousands of health care organizations to get patients to medical appointments every day. Vaccines are, of course, included in that. And we're doing those rides today.

But for people that don't have the health care organizations that's arranging and paying and sponsoring a ride for them, if you're uninsured, if you're at risk, we are also working with large corporate organizations such as JPMorgan Chase and Anthem to raise funds for vaccine rides. And then through the large network of community benefit organizations that we worked with for years, we're distributing that ride credit within communities that need it the most.

- I know Megan, you mentioned the target here is for underserved communities that may not have access to facilities that are providing vaccines. How have you guys thought about approaching the issue of making sure people are aware that they have access to this ride? You know, they might not even be users or even have a smartphone. How are you guys kind of handling that problem?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: That's a great question. So the first way that we're handling that is through our health care business. So in that health care business you do not need to have a smartphone. You've got a health system, a health plan. If you're a Medicaid member for example, or Medicare Advantage member, you've got an organization that's provided you with a phone number, given your resources. And you can call them and ask them if transportation is covered within your health care plan. And they will arrange the ride for you.

If you are not, then these community benefit organizations that are in low income at risk communities around the country will be doing patient outreach. And then also, of course, building inbound calls, assessing who needs transportation, and then providing the rides to those people.

- Megan, so after we move beyond the worst of the pandemic-- hopefully soon-- but once we do, what is your business look like? I'm really curious on what trends you're seeing in the business during COVID that you're going to try to expand upon as we move past it?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah, well, I'll speak from a health care angle given that that's my area. I mean, I think one thing that COVID has really done is shown the inequities in our health care system and the importance of transportation. It's the most fundamental kind of health care access is being able to get where you need.

We're seeing all kinds of stories right now-- of seniors who are traveling on buses, taking 34 stops to get their vaccine. So I think it's really raised the issue in people's minds. We're seeing organizations around the country start to invest more in transportation to keep people healthy. And I think we'll see more of that after COVID.

- Megan, I'm sure I share the sentiment of many viewers when I wonder what the timeline is on people being able to walk into a CVS and maybe get a COVID vaccine. I'm hoping if there's anything you're able to share on that with us?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Yeah, well, as we know, vaccine supply is the question of the day. In March and April, CVS will be standing up these community clinics, mobile vaccine vans in various communities. And I think we'll start to see delivering the vaccine at scale.

- Megan, how far away do you think we are before I place an order for a prescription, it gets sent to a CVS, and they put it in an autonomous vehicle? Even a smaller vehicle, like we've seen a UPS or FedEx test, but that is owned by Lyft, how far away are we?

MEGAN CALLAHAN: Well, autonomous vehicles are not my area of expertise, I will say. But I think we're a bit away from putting prescriptions in autonomous vehicles. I think you may know that Lyft did enter an essential deliveries program at the beginning of COVID back in the spring because there was so much demand, obviously, for food, for medical supplies, other things in the home. And we did launch that program. And we're proud to have done millions of deliveries mostly for food to those in need.

We've done some great partnerships with health plans, Second Harvest Food Bank to support that. But I think we're a little bit away from putting it into autonomous vehicles.

- Megan Callahan, Lyft health care vice president, good to see you. Thanks for taking the time. And good to see what you're working on over there.