By Sienna Beck
Sienna, 10, is a student at the local Writopia Lab and a 5th grader at PS 87.
My Booster Shot Story in 15 Words: I went to the Duane Reade at 72nd Street and got my scheduled COVID booster.
Yeah. Actually, there’s 3½ more hours to the story. It started that way: going to the Duane Reade on 72nd Street and Broadway, where I had an appointment for my COVID vaccine booster at 8:30am on Sunday, October 23rd. I was cheerful, assuming it would be a quick trip, prick, and then home. Boy, was I wrong.
“Let’s go,” said my mom. She, my eight-year-old sister Willa, and I all put on our shoes and walked to Duane Reade. When we arrived, we went up on the escalator. We rounded the corner and our eyes bulged out. NO LINE!!! What luck!!!
We walked up to the counter. “Excuse me,” said my mom to the lady behind the counter. “We’re here to get boosters for my two daughters,” she said and motioned to us. Mom took out our vaccine cards and told the woman we had an 8:30am appointment.
“I’m sorry,” said the woman. “We don’t have children’s boosters here.”
“Yes, you do,” responded my mom. “My six-year-old daughter got the booster on Friday.” The lady sighed. “Fine, I’ll look.” And she disappeared in the back. Eventually she came back out, said “okay,” gave us some forms to sign, and told us to wait.
Before I knew it, it was 9:00am. We kept waiting. A line had formed. The pharmacist was helping each customer. Another employee explained that other scheduled workers had not come in. More waiting. Others waiting for vaccines started piling up. The pharmacist explained that she couldn’t give us the shots until someone else came for the pharmacy. But no one came.
Finally, after another half hour, the woman came back and explained to us and four other people who had children that there were no children’s boosters left. After all that! Annoyed and grumbling, all the people with kids stood up and exited Duane Reade.
My mom asked us to try another pharmacy she had looked up on her phone, so we walked across the street to the 72nd Street station and took the subway to 86th Street. We got off and Mom led us to the pharmacy that was supposed to be on 88th Street. Turns out, the app she’d been following led us astray! We weren’t supposed to go to 86th Street, but to 79th Street! Fortunately, there was a Dunkin’ Donuts at 88th Street, so we got donuts and began our voyage to 79th Street. On the way, we ran into our good friends, the Chanin family and told them our story, not realizing how much of the story was still to come!
We reached the Duane Reade on 79th street with high hopes. The pharmacy opened at 10am, and it was 10:15. But when we got to the pharmacy, the gate was still down and a line had formed. Their pharmacist hadn’t arrived, and the staff had no idea when someone might come in.
While we were waiting, my mom desperately called another pharmacy she hoped was open. When she hung up, she looked hopeful. “I’ve found a pharmacy that will give you the booster,” my mom told us. On the way out of the Duane Reade, Willa and I spotted really cute stuffed animals. We pleaded with my mom and she said we could get one each, because we had been patient and cheerful despite the morning’s adventures. I selected a cat; its name was Tabitha. Willa selected a dog named Mandarin. And for our sister Olive, we chose a rainbow-dotted creature named Dotty. (I have a smaller version of Dotty! It’s so cuuuute!)
The pharmacy my mom had reached was Danny’s Pharmacy II, on West End and 65th Street. We still had a ways to walk! On the way, we popped into several other pharmacies, none of which were willing to give us the booster — either they didn’t have it or they didn’t have appointments. Finally, we reached Danny’s Pharmacy. It was 10:50, and the pharmacy opened at 11, so we had some time. We ran into the convenience store next door and bought egg sandwiches for brunch. We had barely taken a bite when Danny arrived. He was also carrying his breakfast!
Danny was so nice. He let me come behind the counter to give him all of my information. He was also the only one at the pharmacy, but unlike at Duane Reade, he was so friendly and helpful, even as more customers filled the store and the phone was ringing off the hook. He was able to help us even while the store was busy and he was helping other people, too.
After just a few minutes, Mom and Willa came behind the counter too, and I was up first for my shot. I squeezed my mom’s hand, felt a little pinch, and then Danny said, “Are you ready for me to start?” Fooled, I answered, “…yes, I think I’m ready.” He began peeling a band-aid. I was confused! I said, “Wait, what?” He had already given me the booster before he asked me if I was ready because he knew I was so nervous! After me, he gave Willa her booster just as quickly.
Danny gave our frustrating morning adventure such a happy ending. Next time, we’re going to Danny’s Pharmacy first!!
Sienna, your story made me laugh! Thanks for that!
What a great storyteller you are Sienna!! What a trek you had to get a booster. I would go to Danny’s first next time too!
OMG I went to Duane Reade on Broadway and Duane TWO times for a flu shot, walked out both times. The first time I stupidly waited for an hour and then walked out. Made a morning appointment thinking that would be better, and when I got there there were already 6 people waiting so I just walked out. Will try another place.
I had an equally frustrating experience at the 72nd Street Duane Reade (and the one on 102). I finally got my booster at locally owned Valley Drugs on 100 & Amsterdam. They were quick and professional, and didn’t even require an appointment. I’m done with under- staffed drug stores that don’t respect their employees or me– I’m sticking with locally owned from now on.
Same here! Tried all the CVS locations in Manhattan for an Rx renewal with no luck until I came upon Prevail Pharmacy on 102 and Amsterdam. Professional, kind, and easy! Highly recommend.
A lot of people recently have been telling me how much they love Danny’s. Duane Reade / Walgreens is finished. The Upper West Side has many independent pharmacies. Pick one and give them your business.
Quite the adventure! And a good argument for starting with the closest locally-owned pharmacy. The chains are in chaos because they don’t staff (or pay) properly.
Yep, was at that DR pharm last night for the first time. Indifferent staff. Bad experience. Never again.
Thank you Sienna! Great article. My kids go to your school (different grade)! Now I know to take them to Danny’s Pharmacy for their boosters 🙂
Well done , Sienna! An important reminder to not only support our local pharmacies (not the bad Duane Reades!) but for kids to get their boosters too!
Thank you for a really insightful story. You should start a dairy…..could one day help you write a play? Or a short story? or??
Thank you Sienna for a great article. You are the real deal: a young journalist!!!
A little further north, I have used Ivan Parmacy, 691 Columbus Ave. have had similar experiences to those with Danny.
What a sweet story with a happy ending!
It’s a common experience for many of us these days, myself included.
The pharmacies at their current staffing levels cannot handle the huge influx of people requesting vaccines, be it the flu shot, CoVid boosters, or other vaccines. Perhaps adding seasonal nurses to manage this component would help!
Hi, we’re the other family at the Duane-Reade yesterday morning. We didn’t get our shots yesterday, but we’re now scheduled for one of the NY Presbyterian vaccine centers later in the week.
Joseph’s on 72nd St. is also a nice place to get your booster or flu shot.
I went to St Joseph with no appointment at lunch time. It took about 45 mins to get the booster & flu shot. I don’t know about children’s boosters though.
I’ve received Covid vaccines & boosters at New Amsterdam Drug Mart (698 Amsterdam near W. 94th) – with appointments, I’ve never waited longer than 10 minutes.
Joseph’s is excellent & responsible. You can make appt online. They even have chairs in which to wait. I believe they expanded their staff to do paperwork required and give the shots.
Just try the Duane Reade/Walgreens on 94th and Columbus! Even worse than your story. Pharmacy closed all weekend. Waiting for “someone to come” to give boosters. My husband and I registered for boosters on-line, and when we went the next day I was told only he was on the list. I said “Do you just want me to go home?” She just kept repeating “Only John is on the list.” We left in disgust, went to The Ryan Center near our home, and got boosters within an hour without hassle. Skip Duane Reade/Walgreens if you can.
Best place to go!! Danny’s the best!
I love Dannys Pharmacy. Hes one of the nicest guys I ever met!!!
What a frustrating journey! But glad it ended well. I was so surprised to see that the pharmacist in the article is none other than our old pharmacist from Queens! We were so sad when he moved his pharmacy. He had an old school work ethic and a sense of humor. You can’t ask for more 😁
Love going to Danny’s.
He always gives the best service and treats everyone like family.
So patient and fair and helpful, especially to people with mobility issues, even when the pharmacy line and the shots line fill the little store. All four of the staff I’ve seen there handled such stress with steady and humane efficiency. A gem.
Yes, it’s a truly excellent time to get a COVID-19 booster shot if one hasn’t already done so!
I’d like to share a little secret with WSR readers — “secret” because, bizarrely, I have seen no news coverage of it so far. First, enter the following search terms in Googoo, er, Google:
nyc covid stats
Then scroll down a page or so, switch from the “Cases” tab to “Deaths”, & change the time frame from “1 year” to “2 weeks”. You’ll note a large spike in the daily death count (and thus the 7-day average) for Oct. 21 … but because the vertical scale stops at 60, you won’t appreciate how BIG a bump it is unless you hover over that day. Do so and up pops the total: 201 deaths.
201! That’s a 479% increase from the day before! That’s the highest it’s been since Jan. 25!
But hey, the pandemic is now “over”, right? Maybe Friday was just a fluke; we’ll find out tomorrow when the Monday statistics are released….
I understand and appreciate the point you are making but could you please site your source and where the data is coming from? Checking both NYC and NYS official sites this is no where near correct. And additionally this figure is closer to the NATIONAL average of deaths for the entire US according to Our World in Data which is respected and legitimate. NYC board of health lists the most recent daily death in NYC (in its entirety) as 7 total.
Amy: In my original post, the page cited was at the one at http://www.google.com/search?q=nyc+covid+stats . There, it states that the source of the data is the NY Times, and a bit below the graphs is also an “About this data” link. If you visit the NYT page (www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/new-york-city-new-york-covid-cases.html), find the graph labeled “New reported deaths by day”, and click the nearby “Last 90 days” option, you should see the same towering spike as in the Google graph. Also, if you check http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/new-york-city-new-york-covid-cases.html#anomaly-notes-desktop and click “More about reporting anomalies or changes”, you’ll find a terse note of relevance: “Oct. 21, 2022: New York City added many deaths.” True, but it doesn’t exactly explain WHY! As for where the NYT gets the data, they say only, “Sources: State and local health agencies (cases, deaths)[…]”.
I wouldn’t know the NYC BoH version as my browser can never digest their page, alas.
Anyhow, I tried to provide a brief follow-up here yesterday, reporting that Monday’s death toll was down to 23 (Tuesday’s is 18), but somehow that post was deemed unpostworthy by the gatekeeper. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There’s a really rude floater pharmacist who works the weekends at the Duane Reade on Broadway and 72nd Street. I’ve encountered her twice and she seems to only know the word “No.” Very difficult, unhelpful person.
Duane Reade/Walgreen’s at 94 and Broadway is not much better – I received email that my prescription would. be ready on Thursday. I went on Friday and it was not only NOT ready, but they were shutting down for lunch – 1:30 to 2, and I should check back then. No guarantee it would be ready. Another time, they chucked in somebody else’s prescription with mine in same package, which we did not discover till we got home. Why this incredible incompetence at all the DR’s ? Not to mention the sheer indifference .
Sienna – congratulations on a great article! You have a future as a writer and/or journalist! Keep up your good work.
My point exactly about this pharmacy in my above post. To add something else: My husband went to get a renewal for his prescription nose drops and was told they wouldn’t be in until November sometime. What??? We have a CVS on Amsterdam that does not operate this way, and which I use. I advised him to switch. The Duane/Reade Walgreens on 94th and Columbus is just hopeless.
I had a good experience at CVS at 96th & Amsterdam, with both boosters.
Wonderful tale of woe and redemption. I didn’t have that experience at DR last year for Moderna 1 & 2. Now that I’m ready for #5 my plan is to go to a small pharmacy where I obtained the Senior Flu shot from a caring pharmacist. This place is NOT on UWS, it’s about 100 mi from the City so won’t mention the name.
Got my updated Covid booster at Duane Reade at Broadway and 72nd . I had an appointment and went there with the paper work filled out, short line to check in, five minute wait to get the shot. Pharmacist was pleasant and professional.