Topics
More on Workforce

CVS aims to hire 10,000 pharmacy techs to help administer a COVID-19 vaccine

CVS is advocating for trained pharmacy technicians to administer vaccinations while under the supervision of an immunization-certified pharmacist.

Mallory Hackett, Associate Editor

CVS Health announced on Monday plans to hire 15,000 new part-time and full-time employees in the fourth quarter, more than 10,000 of which will be licensed pharmacy technicians to help meet the needs of communities as flu and COVID-19 cases are expected to rise in the coming months.

The remaining on-site positions include pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, member benefit case professionals and distribution center employees, CVS said.

The company is also recruiting thousands of remote customer service representatives to work in markets such as Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Knoxville, Tennessee; Mt. Prospect, Illinois; Orlando, Florida; Pittsburgh; and San Antonio.

HIMSS20 Digital

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

WHY THIS MATTERS

Along with hiring more pharmacy technicians, CVS -- which owns Aetna --is advocating to expand their role to allow for trained pharmacy technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccinations while being supervised by an immunization-certified pharmacist.

Currently, pharmacy technicians process prescriptions, dispense medications, provide information to customers and health professionals, and complete other administrative tasks. During the pandemic, they have also been responsible for administering COVID-19 tests at the more than 4,000 CVS drive-thru testing locations.

By expanding their role, pharmacy technicians can help expand access to care and curb the spread of COVID-19 by distributing an eventual vaccine, CVS said in its announcement.

THE LARGER TREND

There are currently several states where pharmacy technicians can administer immunizations. While Rhode Island is the only state to specifically allow it, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Tennessee, Utah and Washington neither expressly allow nor prohibit pharmacy technicians from immunizing, according to Pharmacy Times.

To help meet the growing demand for pharmacy technicians in order to immunize, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board began giving credentials to pharmacy technicians who completed the American Pharmacists Association and Washington State University's partnering immunization administration by pharmacy technicians program. 

CVS' competitor Walgreens has also expressed plans to free up pharmacists to do more high-value work. It plans to do so by integrating technology into the workflow to handle tasks like putting tablets in a prescription bottle, answering the phone and sending out a prescription.

CVS and Walgreens were tapped by the Department of Health and Human Services last week to provide and administer free COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities across the country. The pharmacies will be provided the vaccine and associated supplies. They are required to report vaccination data, such as who was vaccinated, with what vaccine and where, to local, state or territorial, and federal public health officials within 72 hours of administering the vaccine.

Although no vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's immunization advisory committee, several drugs are in trial, and there have been estimations that a vaccine candidate could be approved by the end of the year.

Pfizer recently said it would apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the U.S. in the third week of November.

ON THE RECORD

"Additional team members typically are needed every flu season," said Lisa Bisaccia, the chief human resources officer for CVS Health. "However, we're estimating a much greater need for trained pharmacy technicians this year given the continued presence of COVID-19 in our communities. These jobs offer a rewarding career opportunity, with flexible hours, advancement potential and a supportive environment while helping people on their path to better health."

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org