UberHealth to deliver flu shots in Boston area Thursday

Uber

Uber is taking on flu season.

On Thursday, residents of 35 US cities including Boston can request a flu shot through their Uber app just as they would hail a ride.

A select group of Uber drivers will ferry around nurses and flu shots between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Boston metro area residents, including people living in Somerville, Cambridge, and Chelsea, can request a wellness pack for $10, and get a free flu shot when it is delivered.

This is the second installment of operation “UberHealth,” and an extension of a pilot that Uber carried out last year in Boston, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

“We had an overwhelmingly positive response,” said John Brownstein, director of the Computational Epidemiology Group at Boston Children’s Hospital, who led that pilot last year. Uber Tuesday named Brownstein adviser to UberHealth.

Brownstein’s research group at Children’s studies the distribution and incidence of epidemics and infectious diseases. The goal of the 2014 pilot was to see if more people would get vaccinated if the shots were brought to them.

Boston Children’s researchers and Uber described this pilot study in the Annals of Internal Medicine Tuesday. The service reached 2,057 people, many of who had never taken a flu shot before, Brownstein and team found.

Uber has experimented with other applications: UberRush is a courier service operating in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago; UberEats, active in 12 cities in US and Canada, delivers food from select restaurants.

Epidemico, a company Brownstein founded, is a partner for the UberHealth, and will bear some of the costs. Nurse practitioners who administer the shots are members of Passport Health, another partner for this event.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at nidhi.subbaraman@globe.com.
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