Uber, Passport Health partner to provide flu shots to Phoenix users on demand

Uber users could select the “UberHealth” option on the app and receive the goody bag and flu shot for $10 on Thursday. (Photo by Jason Axelrod/Cronkite News)

TEMPE – To help fight off the sniffs and sniffles of the flu, rideshare company Uber and medical-care company Passport Health teamed up to deliver on-demand shots and health bags for a one-day event on Thursday.

“This is something we can provide for people that’s quick and easy,” said Gabe Williams, the senior marketing manager for Uber in Phoenix. “It’s a whole lot easier to fit getting a flu shot around your schedule than having to make time in yours to get one.”

Just like ordering a ride from the service, Williams said users could select the “UberHealth” option on the app and receive the goody bag and flu shot for $10.

Up to 10 people could receive a flu shot per Uber request, and users also got a water bottle, tissues, hand sanitizer and a brochure on tips to keep the flu away, Williams said.

Speaking at Uber’s Tempe office, Williams said the event promotes the company’s values as a whole.

“Uber is a company that’s more than just providing rides,” Williams said. “We are a company that is all about promoting experiences. And we want to keep on upping the ante to please our customers.”

He added that the rideshare business also has provided similar services with ice cream on-demand or kittens to encourage their adoptions.

While Uber tested the flu-shot service last year in a handful of cities, it expanded the program this year in 36 cities, including Phoenix. The company noted that more than 10,000 flu shots were available across the country through the service.

The company could not immediately provide the number of shots it provided in the Phoenix area on Thursday.

Although immunization is the best way to prevent the flu, only 46 percent of Americans received a flu shot last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both Uber and Passport Health representatives said they hope the quick and cheap option encouraged more people to get the shot.

“The flu is a major contributor for people not going into school or work during this time of the year,” said Vicki Sowards, director of nursing resources at Passport Health. “And it makes productivity go way down. (The Uber partnership) is a great way to encourage people to be healthier.”

The effects of the flu are nothing to sneeze at. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu each year. Of those infected, nearly 4,000 are hospitalized and about 700 die each year.

Passport Health supplied Uber with 10 registered nurses for the day, the actual shots and helped assemble thousands of individual health bags, she said.

“People were making bags for days here,” Sowards said. “We had three UPS trucks full of medical supplies to pack.”

The medical company provides travel immunizations and consulting for people who travel internationally. It is the largest travel medicine provider in the nation, with more than 250 locations.

But if you didn’t get to order an Uber service on Thursday, Sowards said there are still ways the ward off the flu this season.

“Whenever you see those hand sanitizers at the grocery store, use them,” she said, adding that if you do get sick, stay home and drink plenty of water.