Checking in with Leaside’s vaccine boosters

Brian Mok (r) of Shoppers Drug Mart and his team. Photo by Robin Dickie.

The English language, like most things, is always evolving. When I was a kid, we got booster shots and they were never referred to as vaccine injections, even by the doctors or nurses who administered them – quite seriously and sternly, I might add.

Today, we often think of a “booster” as an enthusiastic sports or community supporter. But Leaside has its very own health booster, who is busy these days dispensing Covid booster shots (and more) to the locals. Leaside is privileged to have an amazing community health booster in Brian Mok, Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) franchise owner, and his team.

We featured Mok in an earlier Leaside Life story (September 2019), where he told us about choosing his first, then second Leaside location for his pharmacies. He now has three. We decided to check in with him to see how he and his staff are coping with the additional stress of Covid vaccinations, flu shots, and rapid testing.

Leaside Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Brian Mok gives it his best shot. Photo by Suzanne Park.
Leaside Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Brian Mok gives it his best shot. Photo by Suzanne Park.

Mok considers his store teams to be on the front line of community health, from the broad product mix available to pharmacy services and evidence-based advice. He speaks with pride about his leadership, pharmacy and front-of-store teams. “Serving the community always comes first,” he asserts. “Given all things being equal and applicants having all the required certifications, I hire for attitude. Customer service is essential in our business to ensure everyone feels welcomed and gets the assistance they require, as efficiently as possible.”

He adds, “We realize wait times can be longer right now as demand for our flu, Covid and booster injection services and rapid testing has increased exponentially. We thank our loyal customers for their patience as the wait may be longer than anticipated.”

As I arrived for my meeting, Mok was hustling to the pharmacy with an armload of supplies and stopped briefly to chat when a customer thanked him for being so community minded. He makes multitasking look effortless as he mentioned that “although I’m thrilled that the Ontario Government now permits pharmacies to administer injections and approved rapid testing, provided the location has a separate entrance so customers do not enter the store, I am always juggling staff and my time. Yet my team is dedicated, none of us have taken a vacation in almost two years. The stores are always busy with little quiet time to re-energize yet my teams remain efficient and welcoming. When really pressed, our store front staff assist where they can.”

He’s also had to handle shortages and reconfigure the pharmacy to accommodate vaccine and testing sites. But he’s not complaining. “Shortages have been challenging yet we are managing. Additionally, the stores were not set up as vaccine or testing sites so we’ve had to reorganize so that we can efficiently serve the community’s needs – which we love doing and which energizes us.”

So, on your next visit offer an encouraging thanks to Brian Mok and his team of community health boosters.

About Suzanne Park 40 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.