Walgreens Customers Are Outraged at the Pharmacy Chain for Doing This
The company has said it is working to prevent these problems from happening.
Pharmacies in the U.S. have been vital in the fight against the COVID pandemic. Nationwide chains like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid have provided customers with vaccinations, COVID tests, and other pandemic essentials to stay safe during these challenging times. But that doesn't mean they always get it right. In April, complaints from both customers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prompted Walgreens to change the way it administered the Pfizer vaccine. And now, in recent weeks the pharmacy chain has received even more vaccination complaints. Read on to find out why some Walgreens customers are outraged.
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Walgreens customers say the pharmacy chain has been canceling vaccination appointments.
Dania Palanker told The Washington Post on Dec. 5 that she was "furious" with Walgreens after taking her 7-year-old daughter to her scheduled vaccination appointment in Cheverly, Maryland. According to Palanker, the pair had arrived for the appointment only to find that the pharmacy counter at the store had closed a half-hour before their confirmed appointment.
A similar incident happened to Brooke Clanton in Englewood, Colorado. Clanton had received an email from the pharmacy chain just hours before she was set to take her two children to get their second COVID vaccine dose, informing her that Walgreens had canceled the appointments without explanation, as reported by ABC-affiliate Denver 7.
A quick search on Twitter shows dozens more complaining about canceled appointments for vaccinations at Walgreens locations, with some saying they were never notified that their appointment had been canceled, and others saying they were given just a few hours notice.
"Super excited to get my COVID-19 booster today, only for Walgreens to cancel my appointment for no reason, no assistance with rescheduling, only new [appointments] two weeks out," one Twitter user tweeted Dec. 1. Another said on Dec. 2, "Walgreens canceled my first and rescheduled booster appointments. They didn't even call to cancel the second one, there was a hand-written sign on the door when I arrived that the pharmacy was unexpectedly closed all day."
Walgreens said it has had to adjust pharmacy hours at various locations.
Walgreens said that the canceled appointments were a result of labor shortages hitting stores across the U.S. The chain has been shortening hours due to a lack of staff at various locations since October, Axios reported. In August, Walgreens said it has hired 25,000 full and part-time workers throughout the pandemic, and it also announced it was raising its minimum hourly wage to $15, per Insider. But the pharmacy chain only started with gradual raises in October, with full implementation not expected until Nov. 2022.
"We have adjusted pharmacy hours in a limited number of stores to accommodate current staffing needs, while also working to ensure minimal disruption to our customers," Walgreens told Denver 7 in a recent statement. "Our team members work with patients to reschedule any impacted vaccination appointments at these stores as quickly as possible. We are enhancing our digital scheduler to ensure it better supports fluctuations in store hours."
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The company also said it is working to fix these problems.
In an email to The Washington Post, Walgreens apologized to affected customers and said the company was working to fix and prevent this type of problem in the future. "We take this feedback seriously and are enhancing our digital scheduler to ensure it better supports fluctuations in store hours," Walgreens spokeswoman Kelli Teno told the news outlet in an email. "We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers and patients."
Teno added that Walgreens expects to resolve this issue "quickly," especially as it has already started to open up more appointments at stores nationwide. "Beginning this Saturday, Dec. 4, we have 50 percent vaccine appointment capacity across all of our stores. The following week, Dec. 11, we have even more capacity, with nearly 70 percent of appointments available," she told The Washington Post.
Walgreens is not the only pharmacy struggling with staffing right now.
Despite the number of complaints levied at Walgreens, this chain is not the only one dealing with staffing problems right now. According to The Washington Post, nationwide pharmacy chains CVS and Rite Aid are also suffering from labor shortages. In Sept. 2021, CVS announced that it was planning to hire 25,000 workers in the U.S. to "respond to the needs of communities across the country during the fall and winter months when the incidence of flu is expected to increase and as COVID-19 vaccination and testing remain in high demand."
USA Today reported an abrupt, mid-day temporary closure of one CVS pharmacy in Indianapolis, Indiana, with a sign indicating staffing issues were at play. CVS Health spokesman T.J. Crawford told the news outlet that he couldn't comment on the circumstances for that one store, but said that the company is continuing "to manage through a workforce shortage that isn't unique to CVS Health."
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