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Pharmacies struggle with worker shortages

Pharmacy technicians are quitting in waves as pharmacies struggle to stay open

Vehicles are parked in front of a CVS Pharmacy.
Vehicles are parked in front of a CVS Pharmacy in Mount Lebanon, Pa., on Monday May 3, 2021. Many pharmacies nationwide are struggling with labor shortages during a rush in COVID-19 vaccinations and test-seeking customers.
Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

Pharmacies are struggling with labor shortages during a rush in COVID-19 vaccinations and test-seeking customers.

Most pharmacies have technicians who are low-wage workers, sometimes without college degrees, per NBC News. Though pharmacies have always been fast-paced, since the pandemic, these workers have faced increased workload to unsustainable levels.

  • “It got to the point that it was just such an unsafe working environment, where you are being pulled a thousand different directions at any given time,” said Heidi Strehl, a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid who recently quit, per the report. “You’re far more likely to make a mistake and far less likely to catch it.”
  • About 420,000 pharmacy technicians are in the U.S. with a median pay of $16.87 per hour, per the report.

These staffing issues have caused pharmacies to close for days on end, according to Al Carter, the executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a nonprofit organization that represents state pharmacy regulators, per the report.

  • He also said that the last six months have seen a spike in these conditions with retail pharmacies hardest hit because of the low wages.

The antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 will only add to the existing stresses pharmacy technicians are facing, per USA Today, as it will require more work to release the pills and distribute them to customers.