Ken Oldham

Ken Oldham is the president and CEO of the United Way of Frederick County.

Hoping to lift the transportation barrier some people face, United Way and Frederick County Health Department are partnering with Lyft to provide free and discounted rides to COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

The Ride United Vaccine Access Campaign is an initiative of United Way Worldwide, which allocated about $59,500 for an estimated 1,100 round trips for Frederick County, according to Ken Oldham, president and CEO of United Way of Frederick County. The first $25 for each one-way ride is free for the rider, and any cost over that amount would fall to the rider, though Oldham doesn’t expect many rides will go over the limit.

United Way has found transportation to be a significant barrier to those trying to get inoculated, especially in lower-income households, Oldham said. The Lyft rideshare program is open to anyone, but Oldham said they’re especially hopeful it will aid those who cannot afford transportation or don’t have access to transportation.

“This program will create more equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine in our community,” Oldham said in a news release. “We are confident that the program will provide ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households with the access they need to get vaccinated.”

ALICE households are those wherein the people and families are unable to afford the basic cost of living in the county, according to the United Way. The ALICE report shows approximately 37 percent of Frederick County households fall into the ALICE bracket.

Oldham in an interview emphasized people do not need to be part of ALICE households to qualify.

“There is no financial test. We just want everyone to get vaccinated, period,” he told the News-Post.

The Frederick County Health Department’s COVID-19 vaccine call center will serve as the hotline for the rideshare program. People can call 301-600-7900 for English or 301-600-7905 for Spanish to schedule a vaccine appointment and secure a free roundtrip ride to and from the vaccination appointment. Residents can also visit uwfrederick.org/rideunited.

You don’t need to be tech-savvy or have the Lyft mobile phone application to participate, Oldham said. If you don’t have the app, simply call the hotline number and the call taker will schedule the ride for you. If you do have the Lyft app and are comfortable using it, the call taker will give you a Lyft code to enter into the app, he said.

Those seeking more information or interested in donating to the rideshare campaign can visit uwfrederick.org/rideunited.

“We hope to exhaust the entire fund,” Oldham said.

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