By LOUIE DIAZ
For his continued service during the COVID-19 pandemic, which gripped the world this past year and a half, local pharmacist, Thomas A. Garza, has been awarded the San Benito News Citizen of the Year Award.
Garza humbly accepted the award and was quick to mention the efforts of his colleagues.
“It’s a really big honor, and I am really grateful for it,” Garza said. “But I don’t think it’s just me, I think it’s our staff.”
Since 1980, the Medicine Shoppe has stood the test of time and has serviced the San Benito community for 41 years.
Garza graduated from San Benito High School in 2005. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Texas at Austin, then graduated from Texas A&M College of Pharmacy in Kingsville in 2012. After he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy, he began working at his father’s—David Garza—pharmacy, the Medicine Shoppe, as a licensed pharmacist. Garza continues to work and operate the Medicine Shoppe alongside his father as a full-time pharmacist for the past nine years.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Garza and his team at the Medicine Shoppe played a crucial role in safeguarding the community, especially during the rollout of the vaccine.
The staff of the Medicine Shoppe has administered thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to people across Cameron County. However, Garza did not downplay the efforts of other pharmacies and clinics in San Benito.
Garza mentioned that he also volunteered to be a vaccine administrator at multiple vaccine clinics in the Valley. He recalled a moment during a vaccine clinic in February—when the vaccine rollout had just begun—with Dr. Norma Iglesias in San Juan, that encouraged him to push for vaccines in San Benito.
“She really opened my eyes to that community involvement. The community rallied around her little office because she brought vaccines to that area first,” Garza said. “You just saw the fears and hesitancy of folks wash away when they saw a person being vaccinated by a provider that they trusted.”
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