Sandy Le’s Portland pharmacy administered nearly 45,000 COVID-19 vaccines in 2022—more than any pharmacy in Oregon—while improving access to care for members of communities in greatest need.
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Le and her husband, Thanh Le, are co-owners of LeCare Pharmacy, which offered walk-in vaccinations and often served lines of patients that stretched several blocks during a time in the pandemic when many providers relied on appointments.
“We provide easy access to vaccines to those who come to our pharmacy,” Le said. “We are able to reach many people through our patients. They tell their friends and family of the services provided at our pharmacy.”
The LeCare team worked before and after normal business hours to provide as many as 400 to 500 vaccinations a day. Their record number of doses for a single day was 777, Le said.
The Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) and the CDC recognized Le for her efforts, naming her the 2022 Immunization Champion for Oregon. She joined a group of 28 award winners from around the country who were recognized by AIM, which promotes public health efforts to distribute vaccinations.
The LeCare team prioritized vaccine distribution to Vietnamese, Chinese, and Latinx communities around Portland, and explained the importance of vaccines to members of those communities.
“Our pharmacists are always up to date on vaccine [information] and are able to answer all questions for those who have concerns,” Le said.
Pharmacists frequently visited the homes of patients with mobility challenges to administer vaccines as well.
“We do accommodations for those who are homebound or are in a small nursing home,” Le said.
The LeCare team also made more than 40 visits to ships in bodies of water between Oregon and Washington to vaccinate international seafarers in need of vaccines. The majority of ship crew members were from countries where COVID-19 vaccines were not widely available.
“We knew seafarers needed their vaccines through [information provided by the Oregon Health Authority’s] 211 call center,” Le said. “Other countries have the COVID vaccines now, however, so we have not vaccinated seafarers for quite a while.”
Le came to the US in 1988 as a refugee from Vietnam, settling with family members in Hawaii. She later moved to Oregon, where she earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Oregon State University. LeCare Pharmacy opened in Portland’s Hollywood neighborhood in March 2021.
Le plans to continue outreach efforts to provide vaccines for Oregonians in need.
“We are continuing with the walk-in process so people can come into our pharmacy, no appointment needed, and get their COVID-19 bivalent booster shots,” she said. “We will always be providing our community with the vaccines they need.”