With Vaccines in More Drugstores, Pharmacies Go on Hiring Sprees

With Vaccines in More Drugstores, Pharmacies Go on Hiring Sprees

Phones are ringing with plentiful job opportunities. Prospective employers are dangling five-figure signing bonuses. Businesses are hounding universities for potential recruits.

The job market is booming — at least if you’re a pharmacist.

The vaccination drive in the United States is entering a new phase this week, with the start of a federal program that will send more doses of Covid-19 vaccines into drugstores and grocery store pharmacies.

In preparation, pharmacy chains are in the middle of a hiring spree, competing to quickly recruit pharmacists and support staff to inoculate customers.

Pharmacies are turning to universities for help finding vaccinators. Training programs are enrolling record numbers of students and workers looking to learn how to give vaccines. And pharmacists like Maurice Shaw have been inundated with job opportunities.

CVS has been hiring thousands of pharmacists and support staff.

With Vaccines in More Drugstores, Pharmacies Go on Hiring Sprees

“For a two-week period, the same numbers kept calling and calling and calling,” said Dr. Shaw, who lives near Springfield, Ill. “It’s like the job market flipped overnight.”

Starting on Thursday, the federal government will send vaccine doses directly to dozens of chains that operate drugstores and grocery store pharmacies. The chains will play a key role as the vaccination campaign, which so far has been concentrated in hospitals and mass-vaccination sites like stadiums, expands into places where many Americans are accustomed to getting shots.

The big chains need trained professionals not only to administer shots but also to perform other tasks like filling syringes, signing people in, answering questions, documenting the doses given and monitoring people for side effects.

Rite Aid is trying to fill more than 2,000 pharmacy jobs. Kroger said in December that it planned to hire nearly 1,000 health care workers; it has already hired hundreds this year. Hy-Vee said in December that it was recruiting 1,000 pharmacy technicians who traditionally have served as support staff but, thanks to a recent regulatory change, are now able to administer vaccines in many states.