Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Uber Delivers Flu Shots in 36 Cities in One-day Experiment


(Photo : Steve Dunwell/ Getty Images) Uber driver Sahin Kaya, of Melrose, drove nurse Shacuiya Lang, of Brockton, around the Boston area so she could administer flu vaccines as part of the UberHEALTH project.

Boston residents and 35 other cities had the opportunity to summon a nurse to their doorstep to give them a flu shots on Thursday, thanks to Uber.

The experiment, which involved the use of Uber drivers, is considered by some as futuristic as it brought health care to the people instead of waiting for them to come and get it.

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According to Boston Globe, the project dubbed UberHEALTH is the brainchild of John S. Brownstein, a researcher at Boston Children's Hospital. Brownstein is also a researcher at Harvard Medical School, who develops technologies that track and promote public health.

Brownstein said that the concept of bringing physicians and nurses to people has so many opportunities. Startup companies are making people order home visits from medical professionals, he said. PediaQ , available in four Texas communities, is an example. It provides an application that parents can utilize to request for a pediatric nurse to their homes during evenings and weekends.

HealthMap Vaccine Finder led to the Uber project. The website provides an outline of recommended vaccines, tailored to the individual, and locations nearby where the vaccine can be obtained.

Despite it being easy, most healthy young adults do not bother to get a flu shot, with only 30 percent of 18- to 49-year-olds getting vaccinated.

With this information, Brownstein contacted Uber last year. His idea was to invite people to call Uber drivers who have a nurse and box of flu vaccines in the back seat.

According to Brownstein, Uber was receptive from the start, and tested the program in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., last year.

The supply of the vaccine was low as the demand was overwhelming. More than 2,000 people got vaccinated in that 2014 pilot.

Uber expanded the one-day flu-shot program to 36 cities on Thursday, including Atlanta, Boise, Boston, Charleston and Columbus, CBS News reported. The service was available from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. Thursday. Because of scarce resources and the need to measure patients' demands, the service was offered only for a short time, Brownstein said. He declined to say whether the service would be offered again.

The director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at the Boston Public Health Commission Dr. Anita Barrywelcomed the Uber project to Boston. To him, the more people vaccinated against influenza, the better for all.

For Thursday only, "UberHEALTH" was one of the options at the bottom of the Uber app. An ad came up, saying, "Get one $10 wellness pack and a registered nurse will offer free flu shots for up to 10 people."

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