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Heart At Work: Leaving retirement behind, at 83 he’s protecting people from COVID-19

January 12, 2022 | Heart At Work

An image of Dr. Freeman Mjolsness, smiling and standing with his arms folded.

He could be relaxing on a beach. Instead, pharmacist Freeman Mjolsness returned to work to give patients in his Minnesota community lifesaving COVID-19 vaccinations.

Retiring after 23 years as a pharmacist in Bismarck, North Dakota, Freeman Mjolsness moved with his wife Arlene to the Minneapolis suburbs to be close to their two daughters and five grandchildren.

When the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the world and his small community, Freeman knew his skills were needed. So, he left Arlene’s “honey do” list behind on the refrigerator, donned his white coat and joined forces with fellow immunizers at the nearby CVS Plymouth, Minnesota pharmacy.

“I’ve always had a passionate concern about the health of the public, I just knew that so many people needed help and I felt obligated to do my part,” explains the 83-year-old.

On a recent day in late December, Freeman administered 92 shots, 90% of them COVID-19 boosters. The rest were flu shots plus a vaccination for shingles. “One of my patients was there for his very first COVID-19 immunization. It felt really good to help him on a path of protection from this pandemic,” he says.


Dr. Freeman administering a vaccine to a patient.
Freeman recently administered 92 vaccinations in a day

An immunizer’s heart at work

According to Kris Slocum, Freeman’s district manager, “From the get-go Freeman has made such a strong impression not just with customers but with his peers. They look forward to his help.”

Kris praises Freeman’s ability to disarm nervous patients through humor, inspiring trust as he builds relationships. “He’s been in the health care field for 40 years, it’s truly inspirational to see him put the customer and the world first.”

“When they tell me they’re afraid of getting a shot, I’ll smile and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t heard that before.’ When they remark that they didn’t even feel the needle, I smile inside,” says Freeman.

Freeman is thankful that COVID-19 vaccinations have helped the state of Minnesota. He’s proud that his entire family is fully vaccinated, and that no one has contracted the virus. But, he knows the Omicron variant poses new risks and there may be danger from unknown variants in the months ahead.

“I take it one patient at a time and thank the good Lord that I can help make a difference.”

Thank you, Freeman, for coming out of retirement to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. On National Pharmacists Day, January 12, and every day, we celebrate you and our amazing team of CVS Health pharmacists across the country for your tireless dedication.