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US drugstores squeezed by vaccine demand, staff shortages

by Erica Farmer
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A sign posted on entry of a CVS pharmacy on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Indianapolis, showed that US drugstores are squeezed by vaccine demand and staff shortages.

The surge of vaccine demand is expected to grow more intense as President Joe Biden urges vaccinated Americans to get booster shots to tackle the rising deadly omicron variant.

The US drug stores are squeezed by vaccine demand by a huge wave of vaccine-seeking customers resulting in staff shortage and momentary closures of drug stores across the United States.

Omicron and flu shots

With the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus in South Africa, the world is at the stake of yet another global pandemic. Several cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus have been reported in different parts of the world including the United States of America, a number that is “likely to rise,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”


What is this new variant?

First identified in Botswana and South Africa, this new variation of the coronavirus has become a cause of concern among scientists and public health officials throughout the world. Because of an unusual probability of numerous mutations having the potential to make the virus more transmittable and provide more sustainability from vaccines, people’s health and lives are at stake.


The World Health Organization has called Omicron a “variant of concern” and  warned that the chances of spreading of the new variant and the occurrence of yet another global pandemic are “very high.” Cases have been registered in dozens of countries on every continent except Antarctica.


Flu shot season

Influenza vaccines, also known as flu jabs or flu shots, are vaccines that give protection against infection by influenza viruses.


Drugstores are usually busy during these times of the year as cv flu shots appointments are high and these vaccines are being delivered to the patients, but now pharmacists are dealing with the growing number of COVID-19 cases and corona tests to provide the required vaccines and meet the vaccine demand, squeezing the US drugstores.


Pharmacists say vaccine demand for COVID-19  started increasing during summer as the delta variant spread rapidly which has stocked the vaccines. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, 80% of pharmacies nationwide have difficulty in filling open positions and 60% don’t have enough employees to manage records causing some pharmacies.


Staff shortages


CVS Health store on the northeast side of Indianapolis shuttered its drugstore in the afternoon on Thursday due to increasing vaccine demand and staff shortages. The staff shortages have increased workload, reduced opening hours, and caused delays at drugstores most of which depend on getting their prescriptions filled.

With that workload and routine prescriptions, many drugstores also have been asking pharmacists to counsel patients more generally on their health or about chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, etc. All these factors are the reason behind the pharmacist shortage and creating staff shortages problems including CVS staffing issues and yet one of the major reasons behind US drugstores being squeezed by vaccine demand and staff shortages.

It’s just tragic that there are not enough workers to yield the best,” said Ray Kadi,  Pharmacist at University Commons Pharmacy. Kadi further said:

“To deliver a vaccine whether it’s COVID or flu is more time eating than to fill an amoxicillin prescription, so there are particular spots in the drugstores only the pharmacists can handle and thus if the pharmacists are tied with the COVID vaccination, it can consume up to ten minutes of the pharmacists time,”

“We substitute two to three personnel daily from other drugstores and the main reason is that they have been waiting for their prescriptions or nobody is answering their calls or when they have a query nobody gets back to them and things like that,” explained Kadi

Let’s hear what local pharmacist has to say

It would be valid to hear the thoughts of local pharmacists about US drugstores that are squeezed by vaccine demand and staff shortages to provide more evidence to what we have just said.

“We would not have gotten through without having some extra staff here.”

Initiatives in this regard

The largest US pharmacy chain by stores said it plans to add 25,000 employees this week in a single-day hiring spree to prepare for a potential surge in vaccine demand, giving booster shots and as more people seek Covid-19 tests as well flu vaccines.

CVS Health Corp. one of the biggest US providers of Covid-19 test kits and vaccines is now hiring thousands of workers to tackle the emerging threat that has caused the US drugstores squeezed by vaccine demand and staff shortages to avoid the closing of drive-through lanes and at times turn away customers seeking vaccine shots. The government should look into the matter carefully.

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