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Walgreens and CVS close certain pharmacies on weekends due to staffing shortages



Having trouble accessing your local Walgreens or CVS? You’re not alone. Both pharmacy giants have been experiencing sporadic closures in certain locations due to acute staffing issues amid the Omicron surge and the overall workforce shortage affecting many industries. Customers across the country have encountered closed drive-throughs and pharmacy counters, sometimes without prior notice. Some have even showed up for scheduled Covid-19 vaccine appointments only to find the pharmacy closed, leading to frustrations and inconvenience.

One such example is Zach Fox from Akron, Ohio, whose wife went 12 hours without prescribed pain medication after returning home from surgery to repair a broken leg. Despite having a prescription sent to their usual CVS, they arrived to find it closed until the following Monday due to circumstances beyond their control. The pharmacist was unable to provide the medication as it was a controlled substance, resulting in a series of challenges to get the prescription filled. Instances like these highlight the impact of pharmacy closures on patients in need of medication.

Both Walgreens and CVS have acknowledged the challenges they are facing. A CVS spokesperson mentioned that a small fraction of their U.S. stores are closing on weekends to manage staffing issues during the Omicron surge and workforce shortage. Similarly, a Walgreens spokeswoman stated that the majority of their stores are operating as usual, but some adjustments have been necessary due to labor shortages and the surge in Covid-19 cases. Despite these challenges, efforts are being made to alert customers and redirect resources to handle increased business at nearby locations.

The staffing crunch affecting pharmacies has also led to Rite Aid announcing early store closures and limited walk-in vaccine hours. This shortage of personnel has resulted in chaotic scenes in stores and challenges in servicing customers with Covid-19 tests and vaccines. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are feeling overwhelmed from juggling multiple tasks, working long hours, and dealing with frustrated customers. Limited pharmacy hours have also impacted prescription revenue growth and patient care, as pharmacists struggle to keep up with medication management for patients.

Despite the challenges, the demand for Covid-19 vaccines and testing has driven up sales and profits for both CVS and Walgreens. Walgreens recently reported its highest quarterly sales increase in 20 years, while CVS raised its profit forecast for 2021 due to the high demand for Covid-19 shots and tests. However, the added business has also incurred costs for the chains, as they work to address staffing shortages and ensure the smooth operation of their pharmacies. Both companies remain committed to providing support to their communities during this challenging time.

In conclusion, the sporadic closures and staffing challenges faced by Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies are a result of a combination of factors, including the Omicron surge, workforce shortage, and high demand for Covid-19 vaccines and testing. While efforts are being made to mitigate the impact on customers and redirect resources to handle increased business, the situation remains challenging for pharmacy staff and patients in need of medication. As the healthcare industry continues to navigate these challenges, it is essential for pharmacies to prioritize patient care, support their staff, and adapt to changing circumstances to ensure continuity in service delivery.

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