Toronto pharmacy goes all out to celebrate vaccine doses
TORONTO -- After every tenth dose of vaccine administered at the Lawlor Pharmacy in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, the place erupts like a bar on a busy Saturday night: owner and manager Kyro Maseh rings a bell and yells “shots in the arm!”, his staff responding in kind with “COVID gone!”, as bemused customers look on.
It’s a ritual that Maseh began as a way to keep spirits high in the midst of a scary and stressful COVID-19 third wave in Ontario.
“We just thought that there has to be a way to motivate the staff and motivate people getting vaccinated because we're going to be doing this a lot,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
Maseh says he got the idea from a restaurant that rang a bell every time a customer left a tip. With about ten doses per vial, there’s not a constant racket at the pharmacy, but Maseh says the upbeat vibe has been appreciated by customers. When the pharmacy recently passed a milestone of administering 1,000 doses, Maseh raised the ante by cranking up the dance music, appropriately “Shots” by LMFAO featuring Lil Jon.
“We started blowing up confetti and all that stuff and it was jubilation, everyone was so happy. They loved it,” he said. “Some teared up.”
The role of pharmacies in distributing vaccines has been a focus this week, as most provinces have lowered age eligibility requirements for the AstraZeneca vaccine. In Ontario, anyone turning 40 this year can book appointments, and some pharmacies have extended their hours to accommodate high demand.
This isn’t the first time Maseh’s pharmacy has stood out for marching to its own beat. Earlier this month, he extended an offer to teachers and daycare workers over 55 to visit the pharmacy for a vaccine dose, with no appointment required.
While the workload has been heavy of late, he said it’s been a welcome development.
“Yes it’s a lot of phone calls, it’s a lot of emails, it’s a lot of people walking in etc., and a lot of times we don't even have doses yet, we’re waiting on supply,” he said. “But at the end of the day as long as it's work that's worth it we don't mind, and I think the same goes for just about everybody.”