Walmart Pharmacy collaborated with the Ismaili Council for the Southeast US to host the Jamat’s first COVID-19 vaccine drive. It was held at the Ismaili Jamatkhana on May 16, 2021, with the goal of providing easier access to vaccines for local communities. Ismaili CIVIC (formerly known as I-CERV) mobilized a significant number of volunteers for this event.

The pandemic has shone light on a number of critical issues, including inequities, and this vaccine drive allowed nearly 200 people to get vaccinated, especially those between 12-15 years of age, with state approval, received only days prior to the drive.

“In addition to safely securing and delivering the vaccine supply, Walmart provided pharmacists who were bilingual in Hindi and Gujarati,” said Dr. Indira Asser, Chairperson of the Aga Khan Health Board of the Southeastern US. Indira is a practicing family physician, and organizing a vaccine drive for the community had been a goal of hers since the pandemic began.

The second vaccine drive occurred on June 6, 2021. Most of the appointments for that day were scheduled during the first event. “In total, nearly 200 people were able to get vaccinated or have a (follow-up) appointment made as a result of the drive,” Dr. Indira said.

Shama Sarangi-Virani is a Pharmacy Clinical Services Manager for Walmart Pharmacy. Part of her role is training her pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to become clinical experts, which entails administering medications properly. Since the onset of the pandemic, her role has evolved into determining what clinical services can be mobilized to bring patient care strategies and wellness programs to the market. The development of a vaccine made her priorities abundantly clear. “Covid taught us we are more agile than we give ourselves credit for,” she said.

The organizers and volunteers were grateful for the opportunity to serve their communities during these challenging times as Islam is a faith that teaches compassion, generosity, sharing, and caring.