Should you need a jab to hail a cab?
With shared vehicles basically rolling petri dishes, epidemiologists say it would be “wise” to require drivers and passengers of taxis and other hailed rides to be vaccinated.
“I certainly would be in favor of that,” Dr. Barun Mathema, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told The Post.
The risk of coronavirus transmission during a car ride can be “uncomfortably high,” depending on factors like the length of the ride, mask wearing, how quickly the virus is spreading in the community and, crucially, whether the windows are up or down.
As it gets colder, Mathema said, riders “are just not going to want” to keep the windows open.
He called for “creative solutions” to promote vaccinated rides, short of a mandate, perhaps including discounts for vaccinated riders, driver incentives or some kind of opt-in system for the jabbed.
“There has to be coordination,” he said. “And this has to come from the government,” or one ridesharing company could lose business getting ahead of others with a mandate.
The city Taxi & Limousine Commission told The Post that while riders and drivers must mask up, neither are subject to vaccine requirements like some city and state workers. It refused to comment on a mandate.
An Uber rep said the company isn’t requiring jabs right now, but it is promoting vaccines to riders and drivers.
Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said in a CNBC interview the company considered a vaccine mandate, but for now will stick with masks.
Both taxi-killing Silicon Valley darlings require passengers to agree using their apps to mask up and keep the windows down before each ride.
But Andrew Burgie, assistant research scientist at NYU’s School of Global Public Health, said those measures were only “the best thing you could do until something better comes along” — namely, the vaccine. Now that the shots are easy and free to get, he said it doesn’t make sense to rely on what he called “secondary controls.”
“It would make sense to have a mandate,” he said. “If everybody were inoculated, then we wouldn’t necessarily need to worry about masks.”