Mayank Amin’s Skippack Pharmacy customers are used to their colorful chemist’s showman-like ways. But when he arrived Sunday morning dressed in his trademark superhero costume, the pharmacist got greeted with cheers and high fives like never before. And he’d be the first to tell you it wasn’t even really about him.
“It was like New Year’s when the ball drops,” said Amin.
He and about 100 volunteers were on hand Sunday morning at the Skippack firehouse to staff the administration of precious doses of protective COVID-19 vaccine to the approximately 1,000 qualified people who signed up first to receive them. Two hundred homebound people will be given the vaccine by Amin and his helpers in later house calls.
The Montgomery County chemist applied to have his pharmacy be one of the distributors of the vaccine but only had a couple of days to pull together the actual vaccination event, including getting the word out to that the time had come. A delivery of 1,200 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines arrived Friday, the first doses of a two-injection process. Amin has been promised a second shipment will follow, he said.
“It’s been heartbreaking to see and hear the stories,” Amin said. That, he said, includes people with gravely ill loved ones desperately seeking the vaccine.
All the people who signed up as potential recipients were the highest priority: those designated as category “1A” — mostly people 65 and over, but also health-care workers and people with certain health risks. By Sunday morning, Amin said his list had grown to more than 10,000 people. Over 1,000 people had called his cell phone alone.
“It’s just mind-blowing,” he said.
“It is like winning the lottery,” said Eileen Kennedy of Harleysville, a retired schoolteacher who was number one in the vaccine line Sunday. Her husband, John, semiretired from his own finance company, was number two.
“We feel so relieved,” Kennedy said.
She has a son in Orlando and a daughter and two grandsons in Atlanta whom she has been wanting to see for quite a while now. She knows the vaccine isn’t a total guarantee but still “it’s more peace of mind,” Kennedy said.
Jim Daughenbaugh, a semiretired engineer who lives in Collegeville, said he was “thrilled” to get the vaccine. Like the other recipients Sunday, he will be getting the second one in about three weeks.
“I just thought it was a prudent decision to get the shot,” he said. “An ounce of protection, right?”
When Bill Biermann, a retired oncologist, and his wife, Sharon, a retired medical technician, heard that Amin’s pharmacy would have the vaccine, they put out word to their neighbors at Meadow Glen at Skippack, an over-55 community.
The couple had been planning on traveling, said Bill Biermann. He retired in early 2020 and had a trip to Italy scheduled that, of course, got canceled. Once they’ve received both shots, what they’re most looking forward to is getting in their car, going to visit their children and grandchildren, and giving them all hugs.
The vaccine, said Biermann, will make that possible now. “I’m very relieved.”