HealthDay News — U.S. pharmacies are struggling to keep up with Americans’ demand for COVID-19 vaccines and tests, and the pressure could intensify as antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 are approved by federal regulators.
“There’s crazy increased demand on pharmacies right now,” Theresa Tolle, an independent pharmacist whose store in Sebastian, Florida, has seen COVID-19 vaccine demand quadruple since the summer, told the Associated Press. She said her pharmacy is now giving about 80 COVID-19 shots a day compared with 20 before the delta wave.
Last week, the White House said local pharmacies are now providing more than two-thirds of COVID-19 vaccinations, the AP reported. Temporary pharmacy closures due to staffing shortages have also become more common in recent months, according to Anne Burns, a vice president with the American Pharmacists Association. Many pharmacies already had low staffing levels before the pandemic, and a large number of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have left since COVID-19 appeared. “There is a lot of stress and burnout for individuals who have been going at this since March of 2020,” Burns told the AP.
Pharmacies also have been handling more phone calls from customers with questions about vaccines or COVID-19 tests, Justin Wilson, who owns three independent pharmacies in Oklahoma, told the AP. “We’re all working a lot harder than we did before, but we’re doing everything we can to take care of people,” Wilson said, adding that he has not had to temporarily close any of his pharmacies or limit hours so far.