Overwhelmed and understaffed, pharmacists call for walkouts

Burnout among pharmacists and pharmacy staff at Walgreens and CVS has led to calls for walkouts at many locations.

Between filling prescriptions and giving vaccines for COVID-19, the flu, and RSV, some pharmacists say they are overwhelmed, and the pharmacies are severely understaffed. 

"Many people are getting double and triple vaccines. So that equates to sometimes 20 vaccines an hour," said Nathan Fuller, a pharmacist with Walgreens.

According to Fuller, the workload has become unsustainable.

"We've had days where I have been at least 500 prescriptions behind.  So that's about several days of prescriptions that I cannot fill.  I can barely answer phone calls," Fuller said.

 Walgreens and CVS each have about 9 thousand locations nationwide.

Doctor Suraj Saggar is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey.  He says hospitals and doctor's offices depend on pharmacists at drugstore chains.

"We have relied upon pharmacists and commercial pharmacists to help us alleviate the burden of vaccinating and making it easier after hours, weekends, holidays, etc," Saggar said. "These are indispensable, irreplaceable members of our healthcare team and to ensure our patient safety which of course is the overriding good, always."

Walgreens is acknowledging the past few years have been very challenging, saying that they "understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy" and they are "engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members."

CVS said it is "focused on developing a sustainable, scalable action plan to support both our pharmacists and our customers."

Both Walgreens and CVS told FOX 5 NY that, so far, they have not had any walkouts at their locations in the tri-state area.