Brooklyn pharmacist Ambar Keluskar is not a man to sit around waiting on life to come to him. When he found himself with hundreds of doses of the coronavirus vaccine sitting in his freezer, he knew he needed to get them in arms instead.
With no one coming into the independent Rossi Pharmacy to get stuck, he decided to go to them. And he started with an LGBTQ senior center.
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Over 50 vulnerable elders at Stonewall House, an affordable housing complex, got their first shots protecting them from COVID.
New York’s laws surrounding vaccine eligibility, require pharmacists to limit who they can give the vaccine. While several groups are now able to get the vaccine, Keluskar is limited to those over the age of 60, teachers, and child care workers.
And if Keluskar wasn’t using all of his doses, the state could stop sending them to him. He needed to start getting shots in people’s arms quickly. He posted on Twitter and advertised on Facebook, but it didn’t really help.
With many seniors having issues booking a vaccine appointment online, Keluskar stopped begging people online and in-person to come to get a vaccine, and started going to them.
“I can’t handle the phone,” Stonewall House resident Emma DeJesus told the New York Times. “I’m 78. Everything is on the computer now and I don’t have a computer.”
Since word got out that Keluskar was making house calls, city officials have been helping to organize and vaccinate other large groups of seniors. So far, he says he’s administered over 2,000 doses – and stresses the if the state government lifted the restrictions holding him back from administering more shots, he could help even more people.
“In the meantime,” he said, “we have to do everything we can to stay in the program, and keep providing, keep vaccinating people.”