NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A pharmacy owner in the Bronx is doing everything he can to help keep his community safe from COVID-19.

He has given out thousands of shots, and is educating neighbors who are afraid to get vaccinated, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Monday.

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It feels like Roger Paganelli knows almost everyone in Belmont.

He’s the owner of Mt. Carmel Pharmacy, where he and his staff have been fighting vaccine hesitancy one interaction at a time.

“Some of the family members of our employees did pass away from COVID, and I think it put a sense of, ‘Hey, we got to do something for our community,'” Paganelli said.


As soon as pharmacies were authorized to administer the vaccine back in January, Pagnaelli erected a massive tent and got to work.

Mickey Apicello remembers waiting in the long line.

“They are very friendly. They are knowledgeable and I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” the 94-year-old said.

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But as demand slowed during the summer, Paganelli realized families still lacked confidence in the shot.

He wrote an educational video and partnered with local business leaders to reach employers and their workers, helping people make an informed decision.

“I had long conversations with Roger just to find out science. I wanted to understand the science better,” said Peter Madonia, chair of the Belmont Business Improvement District.

“Just a bunch of hearsay and social media was like, how could they develop it that fast?” resident Kayuania Holton said.


Paganelli said the pharmacy’s generational presence in the neighborhood helped it dispel vaccine myths and convince people like Holton to finally get the Pfizer shot.

“There is a trust when you walk into a pharmacy and I say, ‘Hello, Mrs. Smith,'” Paganelli said.

It’s a developed trust that has now helped the pharmacy administer nearly 10,000 vaccines.

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CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team