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Pharmacy Chain Response During COVID-19 Vaccination Phase: Will Pharmacists Be Supported?

November 30, 2020

cawleyAs we continue to experience the ravaging effects of COVID-19, pharmaceutical companies are continuing to enroll participants into their vaccine trials. In time, I am confident there will be a vaccine to address this pandemic. Once the vaccine is approved, it will go into the next phase of vaccine distribution and administration. During the vaccine distribution phase, I believe the chain pharmacies will have a major role in providing this vaccine throughout their communities. If this is indeed the case, there can be an overwhelming response from the community for vaccinations.

I am concerned that once this begins, the pharmacy staff will be beyond overwhelmed to handle the patient load. As I am keenly aware, many of you who presently work in the retail setting can tell me how overwhelmed you are right now with the onslaught of responsibilities and not enough time and staff to assist you. In addition to all this, trying to meet unrealistic metrics handed down to you from corporate. Many pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are either leaving retail or simply walking out due to being “burnt out” from the constant barrage of all these responsibilities. However, many of us have families, bills and other responsibilities that require us to continue to work.

What is going to happen to address the need for extra staff when COVID-19 vaccinations are available for the public. Is corporate preparing a plan to address this issue? Is corporate preparing to hire more staff? Is corporate going to set a daily metric of how many vaccinations (COVID, flu, etc) the pharmacist must complete?

I am concerned that there will be no extra staff and you will be told how many vaccinations you need to complete. I would hope that corporate has a plan in place to assist the pharmacy staff. If there is not one developed, I will expect more staff to leave the pharmacy chain environment permanently.  

Michael J. Cawley, PharmD, RRT, CPFT, FCCM, has more than 25 years of experience practicing in the areas of medical, surgical, trauma, and burn intensive care as both a critical care clinical pharmacist and registered respiratory therapist.

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