Pharmacies juggle COVID-19 vaccinations plus regular workload

In March, Ye Olde Pharmacy had open coronavirus vaccine spots they needed to fill. After FOX6's story aired, their phone system crashed twice from the hundreds of calls and voicemails they received. 

Since then, they haven't had much luck getting more vaccine supply, but the staff is still juggling inquiries about it along with their regular workload. 

"We've got three part-time pharmacists, two full-time," said Rachel Anderson, pharmacist.

Ye Olde Pharmacy

Staff at the Cedarburg pharmacy, like many others, have been managing both COVID-19 vaccinations and important medications. 

"We also have our technicians that are extremely helpful with getting paperwork taken care of and making sure everybody is on time and getting where they need to be for me to do the vaccinations," said Anderson. "Staffing is very important with trying to bring in a whole, essentially, department of new things that someone has to do every day."

To date, the pharmacy has received just one shipment of 54 vaccine doses along with second shots for those individuals. 

"Ever since that first week, the state hasn't sent us any more doses even though we have been putting in requests for it every single week," said Anderson.

Ye Olde Pharmacy

Still, Anderson said they are fielding vaccine inquiries on a daily basis, and managing a 750-person waitlist.

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"We're trying to be as transparent as we can," said Anderson.

Meantime, Valerie Lambrecht of Milwaukee said she doesn't feel she's getting the transparency she deserves from Walgreens.

"Tuesday morning it was still saying, 'Pending filling, pending filling,'" said Lambrecht.

It marked the second time her doctor sent Walgreens a prescription, which took days to fill.

COVID-19 vaccine

"The pharmacy had told me it was because of the COVID vaccine," said Lambrecht.

She said luckily, she wasn't in dire need of those medications -- but worries for those who are. 

"If I was a brittle diabetic, I probably would have ended up in the hospital," said Lambrecht. "Thankfully, I’m not, and like I said, I don't hold it on the pharmacist. I hold it on the corporation because they are putting way too much on their staff and not enough staff to cover it."

Lambrecht urged others to order their prescriptions with plenty of time. 

Walgreens Pharmacy

A Walgreens corporate representative issued the following statement to FOX6 News on Thursday, April 8: 

"Walgreens pharmacists have long been trusted health experts in America’s communities. Their role as our patients’ frontline defense has only been magnified by the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud that our government has called upon pharmacists to help the nation reemerge from the pandemic.

We are endlessly grateful for the responsibilities our pharmacists are fulfilling since the beginning of the pandemic, whether its administering life-saving vaccines, or helping patients keep up with prescriptions and health screenings. We’re ensuring our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources to continue to provide the best care to our customers and participate in this unprecedented effort to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Our ongoing and active efforts have included a massive hiring initiative, and the development of new workflows to support the full spectrum of pharmacy and COVID testing and vaccine needs. To date, we have hired an additional 9,000 pharmacy team members, and will continue to increase staffing as is necessary to meet demand."

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