Nova Scotia

Pharmacist sisters give back to parents by giving them their COVID-19 shot

Two Halifax sisters who are both pharmacists had the unique opportunity to give back to their parents by giving them the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week. 

Sharon and Arthur Hodder got their first dose on Tuesday in Dartmouth

Diane Harpell and Tiffany Savary are sisters and pharmacists who were working at the vaccine clinic at The Medicine Shoppe in Dartmouth on Tuesday. (Emma Smith/CBC)

Two Halifax sisters, who are both pharmacists, had the unique opportunity to give back to their parents earlier this week by giving them their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Tiffany Savary and Diane Harpell grew up watching their parents run their pharmacy on Jubilee Road, and eventually followed in their father's footsteps.

Harpell now owns The Medicine Shoppe on Baker Drive in Dartmouth, which is where her family gathered Tuesday for the first day of the pharmacy's vaccine clinic. Her sister gave both parents their shot. 

"I felt honoured to be able to give back to them," said Savary. "We wouldn't be here if my dad wasn't a pharmacist … so it was kind of going full circle to be able to care for them after they've done everything for us."

Harpell and Savary followed in their father Arthur Hodder's footsteps and became pharmacists. Their mom, Sharon Hodder, is a retired nurse. (Matt Harpell)

Many pharmacies across the province have begun receiving doses and setting up COVID-19 vaccine clinics to help meet the province's goal of giving all Nova Scotians 16 and up their first shot by the end of June.

The Medicine Shoppe is administering about 300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to people 65 and up over four days this week, and Harpell hopes to hold another clinic when more supply arrives. 

'You can't get any better than that'

Retired pharmacist Arthur Hodder, who is almost 73, said being able to share the momentous occasion with his family made it even more meaningful. 

"To have both my daughters being part of the process, you can't get any better than that," he said. "You know, it's almost like, OK, now we have the vaccine, let's go celebrate."

His wife, Sharon Hodder, even brought along some chocolate cake to share with staff. 

CBC's Emma Smith shares a vaccine story that's all in the family. Sharon and Arthur Hodder were immunized by one daughter at their other daughter's pharmacy in Dartmouth. 6:49

Coming from a family of health-care workers, the retired nurse said she had no hesitation about rolling up her sleeve.

"To be honest with you, I never gave it a thought, even with the different types of vaccines," said the 71-year-old. "I want that COVID-19 gone so it was very important to get that needle."

She said having her daughter administer the shot made her feel relaxed.

Spots filling up quickly

Appointments for vaccines must be booked online or by calling a toll-free number. Spots for the Pfizer vaccine at The Medicine Shoppe filled up quickly this week, and Harpell said she felt relieved when her parents got an appointment.

"As their daughter, I'm pretty excited that they're a little bit more protected at this time," she said. 

But as chair of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, she's also heard concerns from people worried they might not be able to get a spot.

As their daughter, I'm pretty excited that they're a little bit more protected.- Diane Harpell, independent pharmacist

"I think people are a little nervous that these have booked up, and trying to see what's coming next," she said. "But … there are constantly new clinics opening up, constantly new pharmacies becoming involved, and more and more capacity being built."

The Hodders never thought both of their daughters would end up working in the family business. They're proud of the work they're doing — now more than ever.

The couple knows the hard work of keeping the virus at bay isn't over yet.

They're still masking up and keeping their social circles small, but say it feels good to know they're one step closer to being fully immunized thanks to a little help from their family.

"Finally, finally, we've had the little jab in our arm," Arthur said.