Uber app in U.S. to enable users to book COVID-19 vaccines and rental cars

FILE PHOTO: A screen displays the company logo for Uber Technologies Inc at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermi

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc said on Wednesday it was launching new features in its app to allow U.S. customers to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments and reserve rental cars.

Customers would be able book an appointment at a Walgreens pharmacy to receive a vaccine and an Uber ride to travel there, the company said in a product presentation.

The feature, which expands an Uber and Walgreens partnership announced in February, reflects the wider availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States, where every state has opened up vaccinations to all adults.

For Uber, more vaccinations mean a quicker return to pre-pandemic travel and higher revenue, which has tumbled during the health crisis. Business has already begun to improve with March the best month since the pandemic's full force was felt.

Sundeep Jain, Uber's chief product officer, said the company was "evaluating opportunities" to expand the vaccine program to other countries.

The company also announced partnerships with Avis Budget Group Inc, Hertz and other vehicle rental agencies.

From Wednesday, U.S. customers can book rental cars through the Uber app, with Uber offering up to 10% of the rental cost as a credit to the user to spend on other Uber services.

In May, users in Washington D.C. can have their rental car delivered to and collected from their home, after paying a fee to Uber, which will rollout the service nationwide this year.

Jain said users will be able to handle most rental car paperwork digitally, but declined to comment on the financial details of the partnerships.

Uber's smaller rival Lyft Inc already offers car rentals in partnership with Sixt SE.

Uber also said it would expand an option to reserve rides in advance to more U.S. and European cities and allow customers to book and collect food delivery orders during a ride-hail trip.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin, Texas; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bill Berkrot)

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