Popular Ride-Sharing App Tries to Out Smart the Flu

This week, as I was searching for new social media content, I came across an article on Boston Magazine’s website that sparked my interest. Uber, the popular ride-sharing app, was going to be offering flu shots. I finished the article, wrote some Tweets and didn’t give it any more thought. Later that day, I went on my iPhone to check my university-affiliated email and was surprised to come across an email from Uber. For me, Uber emails only ever come on Sunday mornings after a night out with friends. I opened it and saw that it was an email advertising the same flu shot information I had read about on a Boston news website just hours earlier.

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Uber officially had my attention.

If you’re not familiar with Uber, the way it works is pretty simple. A passenger calls for a car with a smartphone running the Uber app, which is set up by a one-time registration with your email and payment information. An Uber driver then is called to the passenger’s location, who takes the passenger to their destination. No cash is exchanged – payment is taken automatically from the passenger’s debit card – and no tip is required.

I did some quick Google searching and learned that the popular ride-hailing company plans to offer flu shots in 36 U.S. cities this week along with a $10 wellness package that includes tissues, hand sanitizer, a lollipop and a tote bag. The goal of this promotion is to encourage more immunizations.

Flu season is just around the corner, and if you’re like me, trying to squeeze in your latest immunization may not be on the top of your To Do List. The flu affects up to 20% of the population each year — but it’s preventable. According to CDC, vaccination is the single best way to prevent the spread of influenza, but only 30 percent of adults ages 18-49 get inoculated. Convenience and accessibility are often cited as barriers.  Given that over 90% of Uber’s users fall within that 18-49 year-old age range, it’s the perfect opportunity to provide a large group of people with flu shots who might not have otherwise received them.

Although the company has said it doesn’t have concrete plans for health expansion in the future, it has said it will be exploring its options.

Bailey Woodling

Bailey works as assistant account executive and social media manager here at Jennings.

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