Independent Pharmacy Runs Festive Vaccine Clinics

In the middle of a snowstorm, pharmacist and "Superman" Mayank Amin delivers COVID-19 vaccine to the first vaccine clinic in Skippack, Pennsylvania.

In the middle of a snowstorm, pharmacist and “Superman” Mayank Amin delivers COVID-19 vaccine to the first vaccine clinic in Skippack, Pennsylvania.

Nearly a year and a half after the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the United States, Mayank Amin, PharmD, owner of Skippack Pharmacy in Skippack, Pennsylvania, continues to see patients come in for their first dose.

“You can’t assume that just because someone hasn’t gotten a COVID-19 vaccine yet that they won’t ever get one,” said Amin.

Some patients wanted to ride out the first year of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to see whether it caused any serious side effects, Amin explains. Others narrowly escaped a ventilator themselves before they decided to get the vaccine. And death of an unvaccinated family member caused some people to recognize the value of vaccination against COVID-19.

Eventually, people who had been holding out have found their way to Skippack Pharmacy—even those who’ve never previously used the independent pharmacy. That’s because, since his first COVID-19 vaccine clinic, Amin has aimed to make vaccination, whether at a public event for the community or a private area in his pharmacy (complete with aromatherapy, television, and a station to create thank you notes for health care workers), a memorable and positive experience.

When Amin received the unexpected gift of an ultra-low temperature freezer from a local long-term care facility, Skippack Pharmacy became a high volume recipient of COVID-19 vaccine shipments. At one point, Amin had 16,000 doses of vaccine in the ultra-cold freezer required for proper storage.

In an effort to make sure every vaccine dose was used, Amin, his staff, and team of volunteers spearheaded clinics that resembled street parties, where music played, free food and drink were offered, and Amin himself circulated the area while wearing a Superman costume.

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The powerful freezer wasn’t the only unexpected and substantial donation that fueled these community events. A local Coca-Cola distributor heard about Skippack Pharmacy’s vaccination clinics and donated a full truckload of Powerade sports drinks for the Sunday afternoon events. Local restaurants ensured volunteers and vaccinees were fed. Additionally, a local printer that does business with the Girl Scouts of America secured a donation of 10,000 boxes of the youth organization’s cookies to share with vaccine recipients.

The first clinic was conducted at the local firehouse. But, when that space proved too small, Amin set up shop at North Penn High School, his own alma mater. While the school certainly offered room for anyone who wanted to come—on a single day, 7,500 people moved through the gym for their COVID-19 vaccine—it didn’t allow Amin and his team of volunteers to reach everyone who needed to be immunized. Skippack Pharmacy’s Fight COVID Task Force and volunteers were the backbone of the community efforts giving their personal time to make sure their community was protected.

The high school is in an affluent area with high vaccine confidence, and Amin was sure that his team could fill as many vaccination appointments in a day as they were able to offer. With more than 300 volunteers per 4-hour shift, which included pharmacists, student pharmacists, nurse practitioners, nurses, physicians, other providers from across the health care professions, and employees of local pharmaceutical companies, they could offer more appointments.

“But there were areas around us with many lower-income families that didn’t have cars or other means to get to the high school, so we took the entire team as a mobile unit to areas where there was a need,” Amin said.

State representatives and the senator helped Skippack Pharmacy identify areas with high COVID-19 infection rates and few opportunities to get the vaccine. Amin and his crew then took their “street party” styled clinics directly into these hotspots. As these were high-poverty areas, Amin also arranged for donations of food and household essentials. After patients received their vaccine, they could fill a shopping bag with the needed goods to take home.

Skippack Pharmacy’s vaccine clinics and accessible vaccinations within the pharmacy continue to be important to the community. “Not that many people provide vaccines in a friendly, fun, educational environment like we do.” To date, Amin and his volunteers have provided more than 80,000 COVID-19 vaccinations.

Resources to help Discuss the Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination and Know What Drives Vaccine Confidence are available at APhA’s Vaccine Confident microsite.