Updated: Vaccine Confusion Leaves Two Local Pharmacies Fielding ‘Thousands’ of Calls

By Carol Tannenhauser

To say the vaccine rollout on the UWS is meshuga (mixed up) is an understatement. Joseph Pharmacy on West 72nd Street has the vaccine, but lacks state approval to administer it, owner Sherif Eltahawy told WSR. Park West Pharmacy on West 82nd Street has approval, but lacks the vaccine.

Both appear on the state website, released on Tuesday morning, as places to get the shot, and — with the eligibility categories expanded to include all New Yorkers over the age of 65 — both stores have been deluged with phone calls.

“Apparently the state website has been saying we have the vaccine in stock when we don’t,” said Christine Kim, a pharmacist at Park West. “We haven’t heard any word on when we’re going to get them actually. We think it might be next week . Meanwhile, we’ve been getting a lot of phone calls — maybe thousands,” Kim said. The store has six phone lines. “We’re doing our best to keep people informed,” she added — and to keep their sanity. “We’re managing as best as we can.”

“Somebody should go in there and see what they are dealing with today,” wrote a WSR tipster. “I was there for 10 minutes and their phone did not stop ringing….What really is noteworthy is how incredibly nice and patient they were with each caller, explaining the situation to person after person.”

Eltahawy joked that it felt like “millions” of calls at Joseph. He is keeping a list. I put my name on it, as I did at Park West. When I called the latter back to do so — as a customer rather than a reporter — a man with a soft voice and slight accent explained the situation to me, patiently. “I’m so sorry, Miss,” he said, sounding like he meant it. “I know it’s stressful.” I felt myself calming down. This guy was not meshuga, but a real mensch (good person.)

Updated: Joseph “got the standing order from New York City and State on Wednesday morning and will begin calling people on the list and administering the vaccine.”

Park West got the vaccine.

NEWS | 15 comments | permalink
    1. Betsy says:

      Park West Pharmacy is a local treasure.

    2. Roni Katz says:

      New Amsterdam Drug Mart is also listed as a vaccine site. When I called I was told that they are out of the vaccine and didn’t know when they would be getting an additional supply.

      City MD on Broadway and 88th Street is also listed but their recording says they are only administering to
      their front line staff at the moment.

    3. Elizabeth Sachs says:

      Joseph should give their vaccines to Park West. Park West can return them when they get their supply. By then perhaps Joseph will have a permit and in the meantime we can get one of them to vaccinate us.

      • lynn says:

        It certainly would make the process easier for me and many of my neighbors if it was just a trip to Joseph’s, but isn’t it preferable/safer to have the vaccinations done in a medical setting? I have a relative who is a medical worker and she and her coworkers had the vaccine but then shortly after two of them tested positive for covid. She was ok but had to quarantine for 10 days. I’m concerned about side effects. Guess I will stop in and ask them if they’re prepared for any situation that may arise. Thanks again for keeping us updated on all the new developments, WSR!

    4. Robert M says:

      Joseph Pharmacy is also a treasure. Support local businesses!

    5. Wellness on W. 72 st was also on one of the websites but they denied having the vaccine and put me on a list.

    6. Spence says:

      Apthorp is also on the list.

    7. Michael says:

      Park West Pharmacy is my go-to pharmacy. It is a local gem. I don’t know who manages the place, but the workers are always the most friendly, thoughtful, and professional I have ever observed. I do everything I can to support the place.

    8. Nasrin says:

      Small pharmacies in LI, where I’ve been trying to get an elderly relative vaccinated, have automatic messages when you first call in saying “if you are calling about Covid vaccine we don’t yet have it in stock etc.” I personally don’t know how to set that up, but would recommend it for these places.

    9. Kathleen says:

      Joseph Pharmacy is also a treasure. Small, local where I know the staff and they know me. This vaccine rollout is a total mess, but no surprise there. Hopefully after January 20 things will begin to coalesce and we can actually get vaccinated.

    10. Helaine says:

      If you can get to the Javits Center, you might want to make an appointment there. It is easy to do online. I will be getting the vaccine there at the end of the month.

    11. MAD says:

      Both NYU Langone and the NY Presbyterian network sent emails to their patients about timetables for vaccination scheduling. Have you checked with your own doctor? Might be a good idea.

    12. SD says:

      I would like to take the opportunity here to commend Joseph Pharmacy (and its affiliate Wellness Pharmacy also on 72nd St.) on their excellent services to customers since the start of the Pandemic. As opposed to other stores in the neighborhood, they carried high-in-demand items (like disinfectants, paper towels, toilet paper and tissue paper) which were available for us 95% of the time when other stores didn’t have them. They were able and willing to order and obtain for us whatever we asked.

      They were there when we desperately needed them! I noticed that and I’d rate them 10 out of 10 in “Satifsfaction”. And both stores diligently observed (and still observe) Covid safety guidelines. Thank You Joseph Pharmacy!

      • Jacey says:

        I echo every positive statement made about Joseph Pharmacy and feel they are a splendid example of the neighborhood pharmacy, now bordering on extinction elsewhere.
        Furthermore, they sent needed but otherwise unavailable supplies to us all the time we were out of state.

    13. m.pipik says:

      Meshuga means crazy not mixed up.
      Farmisht is one common word for mixed up. Which isn’t what you wanted here.

      And I too want to commend Josephs