US pharmacies hit with staffing challenges, delaying coronavirus shots for some

CVS hired 23K retail associates as part of its latest nationwide hiring push

Major U.S. pharmacies are being stretched thin because of the ongoing labor shortage hitting the nation and in some cases, it's making it even harder to get a coronavirus vaccine

Due to service cutbacks, a Walgreens customer in Washington told The Washington Post that their pharmacy closed up a half-hour before their scheduled appointment without any warning. The customer, Dania Palanker, had made the appointment for her 7-year-old daughter and was even given an email confirmation. 

Meanwhile, another mother in Colorado told Denver7 News that Walgreens had canceled vaccine appointments for her two kids because of staffing shortages. 

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A Walgreens spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business that it has "adjusted pharmacy hours in a limited number of stores to accommodate current staffing needs." 

The chain apologized for any inconvenience customers may experience when scheduling appointments and said that its "team members work with patients to reschedule any impacted vaccination appointments at these stores as quickly as possible." 

The company is also "enhancing our digital scheduler to ensure it better supports fluctuations in store hours." 

Luanne Boiko receives an influenza vaccination from nurse practitioner, Leslie Suarez, at the CVS Pharmacy store's MinuteClinic on October 4, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Pharmacists say demand for COVID-19 vaccines started picking up over the summer as the delta variant spread rapidly. Since then, eligibility expanded to include children, stoking demand. On top of that, with the new omicron variant, federal health officials are now urging everyone at least 18 years old to get a booster shot. 

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Rite Aid is also confirmed to FOX Business that it's temporarily closing most of its pharmacies one hour early during the week in order to alleviate stress on its pharmacists. The company is also limiting walk-in hours for immunizations from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every day and reserving the rest of the day for scheduled appointments. 

"This decision was based on feedback from our pharmacists and has been well-received, as it not only supports their whole health, but also helps them best prepare to provide great care for customers," a Rite Aid spokesperson said. 

A CVS spokesperson told FOX Business that its "pharmacy teams remain flexible in meeting patients’ needs in a dynamic environment that is part of a nationwide workforce shortage affecting nearly every industry and company. " 

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Early on in the pandemic, the chain said it hired 10,000 pharmacy technicians "to support COVID-19 activities," the spokesperson said. 

As part of its latest nationwide hiring event, CVS hired 23,000 new retail employees and is already "in the process of onboarding another 20,000 candidates."

To entice people to apply, the company even raised its minimum hourly wage to $15 an hour in August "with even higher starting hourly rates for certain roles effective July 2022," the spokesperson said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.