CVS & Walgreens Hiring 35,000 To Help With Vaccine Distribution

In order to meet their share of the demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, CVS has been busy recruiting additional staff. And both Walgreens and CVS lobbied for the government to relax “scope of practice” regulations about who can administer the vaccine.

It’ll require more than a small army to dole out the Pfizer [$PFE] and BioNTech [$BNTX] vaccine that was recently green-lighted for emergency use by the FDA. Efforts are already underway to transport and distribute the vaccine across the nation to health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities receiving priority access to the vaccine. 

To expedite the process, Walgreens [$WBA] is looking to fill 25,000 positions, which includes nurses, pharmacists and health-care workers alike to dispense the vaccine to those in long-term care facilities. CVS [$CVS] is also “urgently hiring thousands of qualified pharmacists, nurses and pharmacy technicians” on top of the 10,000 roles that have already been filled to help parcel out the vaccine, per an email sent to customers. The two drugstore chains landed a deal with the government in October to deliver a vaccine to nursing homes once approved.

Walmart [$WMT] is also readying over 5,000 “Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies to receive the vaccine doses” and “making sure we have freezers in all our pharmacies, as well as dry ice to handle any requirements for storing the vaccine,” Walmart’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tom Van Gilder, noted in a company blog post on December 10. Here’s How The Vaccine Gets Distributed

CVS and Walgreens shares both are trading at near decade-low valuations. Although the pandemic has caused a drop-off in foot traffic, vaccine roll-outs are about to send tens of millions of Americans back into their conveniently located stores. CVS has signaled it will expand multiple facets of its business to take advantage of the opportunity. Walgreens is undoubtedly doing the same.

Given that more than 10 million Americans remain unemployed due to the virus-induced recession, there is yuge demand to land a new job, a bulk of which are in the services industry. Many Americans are optimistic that the arrival of the vaccine will result in more job opportunities.

On Indeed, a job-posting site, the share of searches containing “vaccine” leaped by 116% within the first week of December, said Ann Elizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed. “There’s been an uptick in the share of job postings that contain phrases like ‘COVID-19 vaccine’, ‘coronavirus vaccine’ in the job description,” she added.  The majority of these postings are related to pharmacy, healthcare or scientific research opportunities.

“While there’s been a spotlight on the transportation angle of the vaccine, employers aren’t calling out the vaccine specifically in warehousing or transportation-related jobs,” Konkel said. That may change as the vaccine makes its way to rural areas of the country, said Susan Beardslee, a freight transportation and logistics analyst at tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

Pharmacy chains and stores with in-store pharmacies such as Walmart, H-E-B and Kroger could play a large role in immunizing millions of people over the next several months, starting by running vaccine clinics at long-term care facilities beginning next week. None has disclosed how many vaccines it will receive, but CVS says it will have the capacity to administer as many as 25 million shots a month by the end of 2021.

“In parts of the U.S. where you don’t have a large centralized population, I will be surprised if FedEx [$FDX] and UPS [$UPS] are not partnering or subcontracting with other companies,” that handle package delivery in those areas. However, hiring isn’t likely to begin until early spring of 2021.

What’s more, there’s a shortage of some 80,000 commercial drivers in the U.S., largely because of a disruption in training courses amid the pandy, salary increases and more desirable routes could be leveraged to lure back drivers that have left the industry. UPS and FedEx have jointly committed to transporting the majority of the vaccines across the country. Both have already added more than 50,000 workers to the payroll in September and October in anticipation of a spike in demand for their services both for the vaccine and holiday shipments.

As of Monday afternoon, 55 sites received vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operation officer for Operation Warp Speed said on Monday. A total of 636 locations are expected to receive vaccines by Wednesday. Hey Pfizer, Moderna said “Hold My Beer”

“What you’re going to see, is we’re going to be very thoughtful on how we’re going to schedule appointments, how we’re going to work with the communities that we’re in, the states that we’re in, on priority populations, to make sure there’s not long lines out pharmacy’s doors and make sure people have safe, convenient, and efficient ways to get vaccines,” — Rick Gates, Walgreens VP

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