Retailers in mad rush to hire, bring back pharmacists

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Retail pharmacy chains and grocery stores around the country are looking to urgently hire thousands of pharmacists and technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccines, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Walgreens plans to hire 8,000 to 9,000 pharmacists and other healthcare workers nationwide. CVS Health is hiring thousands of healthcare professionals on short-term and permanent status, although the company declined to specify how many. This fall, the chains agreed to work with the government to deliver the vaccine to long-term care facilities.  

Smaller chains and grocery stores are also looking to ramp up their pharmacy workforces. Hy-Vee, the grocery chain based in West Des Moines, Iowa, aims to add 1,000 more pharmacy technicians to its current rank of 1,300. The chain is focusing on former pharmacy workers in its hiring efforts, especially those in rural areas who have left work or whose employers closed. Hy-Vee is also looking to retain its current pharmacy tech workforce, as competitors approach them with sign-on bonuses. 

The hiring push comes shortly after some pharmacies reduced their workforce, and many in the pharmacy field see the short-term employment opportunities as less attractive than a long-term position.

One pharmacist who was laid off from a North Carolina Walgreens in July told WSJ the urgent pleas for pharmacists feel like too little too late. "I'm not really interested in going back just to give shots," he said, noting that pharmacies "made these cuts and now they're begging for people to come back."

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