Colds and flu

Updated 12 October 2017

Uber taxis bring flu shots to your home

If you’ve ever used the Uber taxi service, you’re probably a fan. It’s super easy to use. Now, in the US, they have introduced UberHEALTH, that delivers flu shots and wellness packs to your home.

Flu season is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere and trying to squeeze in your latest immunisation may not be on the top of your To Do List.

A study On-Demand Delivery of Influenza Vaccination by Brownstein et al and published in the Annuls of Internal Medicine in 2015 highlighted the problem of engaging young, healthy people in measures that would prevent getting the flu.

Vaccination remains the single best option to prevent the viral disease, but only about 30% of adults aged 18 - 49 years receive the vaccine.

Reasons are: geographic accessibility, availability at convenient times and perceived ease of vaccination may increase coverages.

The authors say that by making the flu vaccination more accessible will mean they can reach more people who would otherwise go unvaccinated.

The return of housecalls

The flu affects up to 20% of the population each year – but it’s preventable. Using the study as market research, Uber, the global taxi service, has moved into the health sphere with their UberHEALTH addition to the popular app.

Read: Flu alert: Get the flu shot delivered at home

From 17 November they activated the service in over 35 US cities where, from 11 am until 3 pm, they deliver wellness packs for $10 (±R140). The packs include a water bottle, tissues, hand sanitiser, lollipop and recyclable UberHEALTH tote.

Read: Get your flu shot

If users request and receive a wellness pack, they’ll also have the option to request a free flu shot from a registered nurse for up to ten people. A maximum of one wellness pack & ten free flu shots per request.

All vaccinations (appropriate for ages 4 and up) are administered by a registered nurse through the US travel clinic operator, Passport Health. They ensure all consent information and paperwork stays between the recipient and them. 


How to get your flu shot on demand - in the United States only

1. Open your Uber app between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

2. Select the "UberHEALTH" option and request. Pro Tip: please select a suitable indoor location prior to UberHEALTH arriving.

3. Upon arrival, users will receive a wellness pack for $10 (R141) and the option to request a flu shot from a registered nurse from Passport Health for up to ten people – at no cost.

4. If you request a shot, the nurse will handle all paperwork and consent forms.

Will it go local?

On 22 May 2015 Uber South Africa partnered with Discovery Health to bring the same service to South Africans in selected areas of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for R100. There is no word whether they will repeat the exercise again next year.

In the meantime, use the Vaccine HealthMap to find out what vaccines you need right now.


Read more: 

Why flu peaks in certain seasons 

Could bananas cure the flu? 

The three types of flu 


Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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