This Pharmacist Is Using His Event-Planning Background to Vaccinate Thousands. In a Cape.
Mayank Amin, a.k.a. Dr. Mak, went from planning huge, multi-day Indian weddings to organizing huge pop-up COVID clinics.
Born and raised in Lansdale, Skippack pharmacist Mayank Amin, whose patients refer to him simply as “Dr. Mak,” has lately been the subject of national news for his work getting the COVID vaccine into the arms of thousands of people who need it. We caught up with 36-year-old Dr. Mak, who owns Skippack Pharmacy, to ask exactly how the whole behind-the-scenes vaccine process works — and how the heck he plans to get through his waitlist of 35,000 and counting.
Naturally, the first thing we need to know is: What’s with the Superman outfit?
A couple of years ago, I put it on as a surprise for local youth. And then one day I was doing a house call and I don’t know why, but I put it on. And I realized that it helps alleviate people’s fears. So when the pandemic hit, I realized I needed it even more. And I’m also doing it to honor the real superheroes, all those front line workers, doctors, nurses, grocery store employees.
How long have you owned Skippack Pharmacy?
Two years. I grew up in Lansdale. Went to University of the Sciences for pharmacy and then Villanova for B-school. I went to work for Pfizer, coincidentally. And now here I am giving the Pfizer vaccine to people.
Why the Pfizer COVID vaccine?
We’re doing 98 percent Pfizer and a few Moderna. In the beginning, we were one of the few who had that ultra-cold freezer, and that has given us a real advantage. The freezer was a gift and a real blessing. We reached out to Meadowbrook, our local senior home. They bought a freezer early on just in case and weren’t using it. I talked to the CEO. We got it the next day.
How many COVID vaccines have you administered so far?
4,000. Most are not actually at the pharmacy. We do these pop-ups. We have some this weekend in Norristown, Lansdale and Skippack. And what we did in the last month, we’ll do the same in the next three days. I have 35,000 people on my waitlist. We’ve had 2,000 calls in the last 24 hours. It might take five minutes for me to do one vaccine at the pharmacy. But at the pop-ups, with all the volunteers, we can do 100 in that time.
Running a pharmacy is one thing. Organizing COVID vaccine pop-ups all over the county is another.
Well, I actually own an event planning company called Platinum Dream events. We do mostly South Asian weddings. We’ve closed down Broad Street for horses. I’ve organized huge, multiple-day Indian weddings. And, well, we’ve gone from 40 weddings a year to maybe one or two in the last year, so I’m redirecting that energy into planning large-scale clinics.
How are people finding you?
We post a lot on Facebook, and people sign up online, so people who have technology and social media. And then people are looking out for each other, maybe a neighbor or parent who doesn’t have a computer. We don’t want to leave people behind.
So they’re signing up on a county form? State?
No, this is my own interest form. We are an independent pharmacy, and this is our form.
And where do you get the vaccine from?
Right now, like other independent pharmacies, we our getting ours from the state. But the next rollout will be from the federal supply.
You went to Villanova for business. You own the pharmacy, have employees. How exactly are you being compensated for all this work?
I haven’t actually dabbled in that even. I have no idea how reimbursement will work, if it will work. We might not get reimbursed, and people think I am crazy for doing it without knowing. But that’s not what’s important right now.
How worried are you about the supply keeping up with anywhere near the demand?
We just keep hoping that it shows up. We have the pop-ups this weekend, and I’m sitting here watching the UPS tracking for the shipment I need for Sunday.
What kind of hours are you keeping during all of this?
Last year, I worked 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Now, I’d be happy to get home by midnight. I have the pharmacy. There are the homebound patients that I go visit. Nobody is getting paid to visit homebound patients, so as the owner, I have to do it myself. So I’m not getting too much sleep. Baby on the way in May, and my wife is sacrificing so that more people can be vaccinated. For now, instead of sitting at home and watching TV, I’m doing this. But I’m really passionate about it. I don’t feel like I’m working.
You refer to the customers as patients. I don’t think we used to think of a pharmacist relationship in that way.
The pharmacist of then and now are two different things. Our biggest role then was to make sure a medication was dispensed correctly. Now, we are providers. The whole point of the doctorate is so we can do patient care services. And that is the direction of the business. After COVID, pharmacists will have a more clinical, hands-on approach.
Your phone is ringing off the hook, but there are still plenty of people out there reluctant to get the vaccine. What do you tell them?
Everybody has a choice, whether it’s a vitamin or a vaccine or Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. Some are for. Some against. There are still some people against masks. I still have some people who walk into my pharmacy without a mask. I respect people’s beliefs. But I got my vaccine a month ago, and I’m still wearing two masks. There is no such thing as being extra safe.
I’ve talked to a lot of people who have jumped counties to get a vaccine. Taking it wherever it’s available. A colleague of mine drove to the Poconos. Will you vaccinate anyone, no matter where they are from?
Yes. We encourage people to stay as close to home as they can, but the state guidance was clear that we should give vaccines to anyone. We were told we might have people from Delaware County or Bucks County coming in. It’s only Philadelphia that has said it will only vaccinate its residents.
Thank you for your work, and good luck.