Black-owned Ziks Pharmacy key in vaccine rollout



The pandemic’s toll has been uneven and inequitable, but a small, Black-owned Dayton pharmacy played an outsized role in bringing vaccines to people who have borne some of the highest risk from the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered around 15,000 COVID-19 vaccines so far.

Ziks Pharmacy has been giving their time – and giving their overtime – to make it easy for Black residents and the West Dayton neighborhoods to get vaccines, and they stepped up to help thousands of local people with developmental disabilities get immunized.

Their efforts to make vaccination easy and informed has likely saved lives.

The Dayton Daily News previously reported that while hospitalizations from the virus have dropped overall, the rates have fallen more slowly for Black patients as local African Americans also have been getting vaccinated at slower rates.

The Ziks team has conducted more than 50 vaccination clinics,, including at Mt. Enon Baptist Church, its pharmacy, and other locations on a weekly basis since January.

The pharmacy, along with the local group Gem City Medical, Dental, Pharmaceutical Society, have worked directly with Gov. Mike DeWine’s office to increase accessibility of vaccines. In January, they were one of three independent pharmacies in the state and the only minority-owned pharmacy that was part of the initial rollout.

Ziks Family Pharmacy Manager Gregory Braylock said they started more clinics out in the community when they realized their numbers were dropping rapidly from about 1,200 vaccines a week to less than 200 a week.



“We needed to find a way to get more people vaccinated. My boss and I sat down and we were talking and said, ‘We cannot wait for people to come to us anymore. That ship has sailed. What we need right now is for our people to go off into the communities,’” Braylock said.

Currently, they have been addressing the misinformation and giving the facts on the COVID-19 vaccines and other health issues impacting the Black community via a weekly radio show called “A Healthier You” broadcasted from 10 to 11 a.m. the first three Wednesdays of each month on radio station WDAO.

They went to Creekside Housing Community and knocked on doors and gave vaccines. At another clinic at DeSoto Bass Courts, they had all three vaccines available and gathered block-party style along with other groups providing music, free food and information. Co-sponsor CareSource had gift cards for those with Medicaid who were vaccinated that day.

“They are already familiar with us. They know who we are because they come into our pharmacy, and we delivered to their homes all the time,” Braylock said. “That’s why they feel welcome and are showing up.”

Every weekday, they also offer walk-in COVID vaccines.

In West Dayton, many of the big grocery stores and and chain pharmacies have closed or were never in the neighborhoods. That has meant harder access and severed provider relationships. Misinformation and bad access create a feedback loop; if few people get vaccinated in an area or group, then there are fewer vaccinated people to share positive experiences.

But Wright-Dunbar based Ziks, which has continued to invest and grow, is led by staff with those critical relationships, and for months they have been a critical part of vaccine outreach.

Nnodum Iheme, owner of Ziks Family Pharmacy, treats the community as family, Braylock said.

“He knows everybody. Everybody knows him,” Braylock said.

Ziks also has done significant work to help local people with developmental disabilities get vaccine access. Braylock said about 6,000 of its first vaccines were for clients with the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Braylock had lost his brother last July and said that it was important that the pharmacy got to work with the board.

“He was part of that community so working with (Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities) was very special for me,” Braylock said.

Dr. David Novick said he learned about Ziks vaccine work after they provided a vaccine for his daughter, who receives services through Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The gastroenterologist has since volunteered for 18 clinics with Ziks.

Novick said a lot of the Ziks employees have worked overtime on the outreach.

“It took tremendous organizational skills to carry all this out and they have been terrific. I think they deserve a lot of credit,” Novick said.

About the Author