- Patients in some states are waiting weeks to get a COVID vaccine at CVS and Walgreens, per WSJ.
- The Omicron variant and new vaccine rules for kids is creating higher demand for jabs.
- Retail pharmacies in states like Connecticut and Kentucky are facing staff shortages.
As demand for vaccines and booster shots increases, retail pharmacies are struggling to get Americans vaccinated quickly, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.
CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart — stores facing staffing shortages in some states — have day- to week-long wait times for COVID-19 vaccines, per the Journal. The White House said on Thursday retail pharmacies are providing two-thirds of all COVID-19 vaccines.
“We have the inventory and capacity to meet COVID-19 vaccine needs, including in areas of high demand,” a CVS spokesperson told Insider. CVS is encouraging patients to make a vaccine appointment on the CVS app or on the company’s website.
Walgreens told Insider the firm has recruiting for positions in its pharmacies. The company said it increased incentives by bumping up minimum hourly wages to $15 an hour and by giving $1,000 rewards to technicians who become certified to administer flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Still, retail pharmacies are facing staffing shortages in some states, according to local news reports. Patients reported having to wait longer to fill prescriptions and get vaccine shots in Indiana, Colorado, Kentucky, and Connecticut due to short staffing.
Companies in food service, retail, and healthcare have been struggling to fill positions this year.
Experts say a mismatch between industries hiring and the types of workers seeking jobs have contributed to the labor squeeze. Workers are taking advantage of the labor squeeze by pushing for better working conditions and more pay.
The increased demand for COVID-19 shots comes after The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer shot for kids aged 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recently said all adults over 18 are eligible to get an additional vaccine jab six months after their full Pfizer or Moderna series, or two months after a Johnson & Johnson shot.
The CDC recommendation for boosters follows the World Health Organization labeled the Omicron variant, which the US has identified in California and New York, a “variant of concern.” Researchers are currently working to determine whether the Omicron variant is more dangerous than the more-transmissible Delta variant.
Walmart was not immediately available for comment.