April 7, 2021
By Marti Henson, Pharmacist, Hot Springs, Ark.
My eyes weren’t fully open to the significance of some of my job responsibilities until I met Mr. Pitts.
“We’re experiencing history in the making. These are unprecedented times. This year is one for the books.” These are all things we’ve heard, but they officially sunk in while I gave him his first COVID vaccine.
My name is Marti, and I’m a pharmacist in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I’ve served the community here for nearly 30 years and five of those years have been with Sam’s Club. I love seeing my patients each week and now that we’re administering the vaccine, I get to meet new friendly faces, smiling behind their masks of course. You can definitely tell a smile through their eyes.
I met Mr. Pitts after his daughter signed him and his wife up for the vaccine online and brought them both into the club. And let me tell you, not only did he come in with a smile, but learning his story put a smile bigger than the state of Arkansas on my face.
I love to chat with our patients and make sure they are comfortable and feel welcome. After all, for many people, we are the face they will remember, because as Mr. Pitts put it, we’re making history together.
So as we began to talk he started telling me about being in the Army. He had been in France and was one of the first recipients of the influenza vaccine during World War II in France.
I immediately thought that was such an incredible story, so we chatted some more. It’s one of the best parts of my job. Every day I meet new people and help vaccinate super moms, public servants and more, but this was a special opportunity to vaccinate a World War II veteran. I was delighted to hear about his experience, and I was incredibly humbled to help protect someone, by giving him the vaccine, that has protected so many others. I thanked him for his service. Then, he left and went about his day as did I.
But a few weeks later he returned to our club to receive his second dose and something amazing happened. His wife whispered to me and said, “Mr. Pitts brought you something.” He managed to find his old immunization record from the Army from the 1940s and wanted to show it to me, beaming with pride.
Because of this vaccine and because I am in a position to be able to administer it, I couldn’t be happier to add to his collection when I gave him his new, white vaccination record with the COVID vaccine.
I love my job because I get to help people, and this was an incredibly special interaction for me. I was honored to give him his vaccine and very excited to do my part during this historical moment.
Who knows… maybe Mr. Pitts will add me to the next story he tells. Or better yet, maybe 25 years from now, I’ll be able to look back on this moment and share the story of the day I met Mr. Pitts, a true history maker.