With vaccine around the corner, Triangle pharmacies face staffing challenges


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As healthcare providers across the country prepare for a COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacies across the country are experiencing a problem due to the pandemic.

“Just as it is on our hospital system, our pharmacy system is starting to feel the pressures of this pandemic very acutely,” said Michael Hogue, President of the American Pharmacist Association.

Hogue said pharmacists are not only being called onto fill prescriptions, but also to perform COVID-19 testing vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.

“It takes a lot more staffing to be able to do all of these things, and there is clearly a national shortage of pharmacy technicians to be able to support pharmacists in that role,” Hogue said.

“Without pharmacy technicians, it puts more of a demand on the pharmacist and takes away from their time to do patient reviews and drug interactions,” said Shannon Natale, the head of Wake Tech’s Pharmacy Technology program.

Natale is working to fill a growing void in local pharmacies.

“Employers probably contact me 4 to 5 times a week,” said Natale.

While the jobs are there COVID is causing yet another problem.

“Our students that were supposed to graduate in May were taken out of clinical sites in March, so that put us behind,” Natale said.

“We need thousands of more pharmacy technicians on the frontlines,” Hogue said. “The pandemic is going to last awhile, and we’re going to need pharmacist and pharmacist technicians helping with our health system for a long time to come.”

Over the past two years, Wake Tech has placed 100 percent of their Pharmacy Technology graduates.

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