Pharmacist, technician shortages and busy pharmacies impacting testing and vaccines

pharmacy tech shortage
Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 19:38:35-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pharmacist and pharmacy technician shortages are affecting all parts of pharmacy operations, including COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

"It's a really hard environment," Shane Kozlowski said.

Kozlwski has been a pharmacist for several years, but recently resigned from his position at a retail store, saying the pandemic made already stressful working conditions worse.

"Patient care was struggling because of staffing shortages and other factors at play, but it was hard," Kozlowski said.

Pharmacy employees are working long hours because of the staffing shortages. Kozlowski said it's more like a five to nine job rather than a nine to five.

You'll see long lines and delays at some pharmacies. They're working to serve patients while running busy COVID testing and vaccine clinics.

"It's showing us we're needed in the community but it's disappointing to see some of the resources we're lacking to really do what we came to do, and what we're able to do,"Kozlowski said.

As pharmacies get busier, some people may consider at-home options for testing.

"We're seeing an incredible increase in our sales," Delia Vallejo, Vice President and General Manager of EmpowerDX said. "We definitely are seeing an increase both because of the Delta surge, the lead up to holidays and also possibly because of shortages in other places, long lines."

EmpowerDX is a Boston area based company with a lab in Lee's Summit that will send a PCR COVID-19 testing kit to your home. Tests are available on their website or through Amazon.

Rapid tests are in short supply in many pharmacies and people are still having a hard time finding an appointment.

"Our test is really for advanced planning," Vallejo said. "If you have a kid at home, if you're thinking ahead to what your travel plans are or what your gatherings are. So we see it as a complement, not a replacement, to some of the rapid testing available at pharmacies."

Vallejo says combining their PCR tests with a rapid antigen test can provide the best results. A PCR test can detect COVID even if you're asymptomatic.