Mayank Amin was more than ready. He’d been preparing for months to start vaccinating people in Schwenksville, a small town about halfway between Philadelphia and Allentown, PA. He’d registered the Skippack Pharmacy as a vaccination site, filled in forms, received approvals, updated his training to meet federal guidelines for COVID-19. And waited.
Two weeks ago, he heard his pharmacy was in queue; vaccine would be arriving, but no appointments could be scheduled until it actually showed up. Last Friday was the big day. The pharmacy received 1,200 doses, a mix of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. With doses in hand, Dr. Amin and a small army of volunteers scheduled local people from a preregistration site to receive the vaccine starting on Sunday morning at the local firehouse, even as the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning.
In a Facebook post in January, Dr. Amin encouraged people to get the vaccine at Skippack Pharmacy. “While we can’t physically hold your hand when we give you an immunization, we assure you it’ll be the most comfortable environment you’ve been in to get a vaccine—the lights, the music, the administration technique, the people.”
Dr. Amin knows the importance of ambiance, according to reports in the local news media. After working as a pharmacist for 5 years, he pursued an MBA and started Platinum Dream Events, a wedding and major event company. In 2019, he reopened the Skippack Pharmacy, which had operated in the town for 50 years before being sold to CVS. The timing was fortunate; the pandemic shut down the wedding business. The planning and calming skills learned as a wedding planner proved well suited to soothing customers during the pandemic and taking steps to get them the vaccine.
The emotion of a wedding may be easier to see, but Dr. Amin finds a different, powerful joy in the pharmacy operation, particularly with the vaccine available.
“Instead of planning the best day of someone’s life, when they’re getting married, this could be the second-best day,” Dr. Amin told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “People have been asking [about the vaccine]. Some nearly break down, thinking about the day they can hug their grandkids, or meet with their friends and family again. . . . That’s what our community misses.”
Dr. Amin understands community. He knew getting shots in arms would take a village, so he appealed to students, healthcare professionals, other professionals, businesses, first responders, and interested community members for help.
“The time to come together is now. As your local community pharmacy, during this pandemic, we’ve had a large role to fill,” said one appeal. “Our staff has worked around the clock to do whatever we can to help but now we’re reaching out for more hands on deck as the vaccine will make its way to us soon!
“The demand of vaccines is high, the supply of it is low, but you can bet that when others are sleeping, your team at Skippack Pharmacy is doing whatever they can to get these vaccines into our hands so we can get them out to our community.”
Pharmacists, healthcare professionals, and pharmacy students signed up to administer the shots. Volunteers notified people of appointment times. Doses were held back for administration to homebound individuals. Everyone pulled together to protect the most vulnerable—and hoped that that snow warning did not become a snow emergency.
“The community has truly become a family to us,” Dr. Amin said. “We’re saving lives, we’re helping people. We’re doing things for which we’re being called upon. It’s time for us to rise and rise together.”
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