Late in the afternoon on Friday, March 5, Bath Mayor Fiorella Mirabito’s phone rang. On the line was friend and District Pharmacy Manager for Rite Aid Pharmacies, Mandy Hoysan, and her husband Chris. Hoysan delivered the news Mayor Mirabito had been waiting for: Hoysan had over 300 COVID-19 vaccine doses available for Bath residents and business owners if Mirabito was interested.
“I jumped at the chance,” she says.
The call came after Mirabito spent months contacting local healthcare experts, seeing if anyone had vaccine doses for a Bath Borough clinic. It was something she had been wanting to bring to residents for months, not just as mayor, but as one of the tens of millions of Americans who have fallen ill with the virus.
“[Holding a clinic] was extremely important to me,” she says. “My entire family and I had Covid at the beginning of January and, to be honest, the emotional toll it has been taking on me has been overwhelming. So I wanted to do what I could for my residents and beyond if possible.”
With only about a week to plan the clinic, which was to be held on March 13, there wasn’t much time. However, word spread quickly on Facebook, over the phone, and between neighbors. In two days, over 700 people called Mirabito to register. About 320 appointments were confirmed and a wait list was created for cancellations and no-shows.
“[We were] able to call everyone on the wait list since we had enough for them as well,” she adds.
At a time when access to the vaccine is of great concern, especially for Americans without the internet (where most appointments are booked), this clinic helped bring the life-saving shot to those who needed it most. Mirabito says she received countless phone calls from the borough’s senior citizens, “incredibly emotional that we were able to help them.”
Finding a central location was also not a worry. Social Hall Board Members and Jim Pasquariello of the Bath Social Hall donated the venue to hold the clinic.
In total, 364 Pfizer vaccine doses were administered on the day of the clinic. Second doses will be given on April 3. Krisi Baird and Jordan Borger, two Rite Aid pharmacists, were on hand to deliver the doses, and about a dozen borough volunteers from the municipal building, council, and the social hall were there to help keep things running smoothly.
“I am incredibly proud to serve this little Borough of Bath – and, I am even more proud of the persons who came together to make this an incredible reality today,” Mirabito posted on Facebook the day of the event.
Mirabito says her phone is still ringing, with residents asking whether they too can get their vaccines. Another clinic is something she hopes the borough and Rite Aid can once again make a reality.
“I am truly hoping Rite Aid will be able to do another for us,” she says. “I will open it up to those residing in the Borough of Bath along with business owners here (employers and employees) and anyone in the 18014 Zip Code – even though I have no jurisdiction in the Townships. At this point, let’s just get vaccines to as many people as possible.”
If another clinic becomes a reality, Mirabito says she and borough administration will do their best to get the word out quickly, but she urges residents to stay informed.
“At the clinic, a woman told me she’s not on social media; she doesn’t get the newspaper; she doesn’t watch TV; and, she doesn’t listen to the radio,” she says. “I was taken aback. How does she stay informed of what’s happening in the world?”
With the world changing every single day, she asks residents to stay tuned to the Borough Facebook page, bathborough.org, and local newspapers. She also asks neighbors to spread the word amongst each other, especially if they know friends, family, and residents who may not have access to important news like vaccine availability. Sharing the news with even one fellow resident can help bring us all closer to ending the pandemic once and for all.
Thanks to Mirabito and all of the volunteers, hundreds of residents are now protected against the deadly virus. If the first clinic was any indication, it shows just how big a difference a community as small as Bath can make when everyone, neighbors, business owners, and employees, work together.