Bob Cousy scores vaccine — with possible assist from Fauci 

Former Celtics great plays it coy over who helped  

THEY ARE POPPING UP all over the country — stories of volunteer brigades or just concerned individuals operating on their own who work to get COVID vaccine appointments for elderly neighbors or others who might have trouble navigating frustrating sign-up systems to get inoculated. 

Somerville resident Diana Rastegayeva started a Boston area network of vaccine helpers that, as of the first of the month, claimed to have aided 450 people in securing appointments. The New Yorker recently featured the story of a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident, Carolyn Ruvkun — who said she thinks of herself as the “vaccine yenta” — who was doing the same on her own. 

I have an 80-something-year-old aunt in New York City who told me a kind resident of her Greenwich Village apartment building posted a notice in the lobby offering help with sign-ups, an offer my computerless kin gratefully accepted.  

In the latest tale of pandemic good will, a certain elderly Worcester resident apparently had the help of a very influential vaccine yenta, but no one is definitively naming the good-deed doer. 

Bob Cousy, the 92-year-old former Celtics great who divides time between Florida and Worcester, tells the Palm Beach Post he got a call from someone in the Worcester city manager’s office last month telling him a vaccine appointment had been secured for him. A couple of hours before the call, Cousy said, he spoke on the phone with Dr. Anthony Fauci, a fellow Holy Cross graduate (and fellow point guard, though Fauci’s hardwood career ended after high school) with whom he’s been friends for decades.

In the course of the call, Cousy said, the country’s top infectious disease official asked if he’d been vaccinated yet. Cousy told him he hadn’t, but that he wasn’t concerned and his daughter was working on getting him an appointment. (Massachusetts residents 75 and older became eligible for the vaccine on February 1.) 

Though circumstantial evidence points toward Fauci as his vaccine yenta, Cousy also happens to be friends with Sen. Joe Manchin. He said the West Virginia senator told him in a phone conversation several months ago, “Cooz, don’t worry about the vaccine, I’ll take care of you.” 

Cousy said he got his first dose of the Moderna vaccine on February 8, and is due to get his second shot today. 

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Cousy told Palm Beach Post reporter Tom D’Angleo that the person from the Worcester city manager’s office told him “a little bird” alerted them he had not received his vaccine. When he asked who it was, Cousy said, he was told, “I can’t tell you who the little bird is because of who the little bird is.”

Despite all signs pointing to Fauci, Cousy tried to brush off the idea of his high-placed friend as the vaccine playmaker. “Tony is busy saving the freakin’ world every day,” he told the Florida paper. “I can’t imagine.”