Your Walgreens Pharmacy May Be Closed This Week—Here's Why
A number of locations across the U.S. will be temporarily shuttered.
Millions of people go to Walgreens for their healthcare needs, in large part because the pharmacy chain is usually pretty reliable. But if you have a vaccine appointment scheduled in the coming days or need to pick up a prescription, you might want to double check that your location is open. Several locations are being temporarily shuttered this week thanks to massive protests among workers. Read on to find out more about these sudden Walgreens closures.
Walgreens pharmacies are closed in several states.
As of Oct. 9, Walgreens customers in multiple states have reported closed pharmacies.
"Scheduled a booster/flu shot appointment today and the Walgreens pharmacy is just closed all day, without warning," one user posted on X.
Another X user wrote "PSA for anyone looking to get a COVID vaccine (or anything else pharmacy-related) at the Walgreens at 275 W. Wisconsin (in the former Grand Ave. mall)…the pharmacy is closed."
According to a report from CNN, confirmed pharmacy closures have hit a number of Walgreens locations in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, and Oregon so far this week. But the closures likely aren't limited to those states.
Pharmacy workers are walking out.
The sudden Walgreens closures are part of a major protest from the chain's workers, CNN reported. Pharmacists, technicians, and support staff across the country have planned walkouts from Oct. 9 to Oct. 11, one of the organizers told the news outlet. While there is no confirmation on how many pharmacies are being closed as part of the strike, the organizer said they had heard from well over 500 U.S. stores interested in participating.
Walgreens spokesman Marty Maloney told USA Today that the impact of the walkout is "minimal," but declined to specify how many stores are involved in the strike.
A "small number of our pharmacies are experiencing disruptions, and we apologize for any inconvenience," Maloney said. "We are working to return these pharmacies to regular operations as quickly as possible. Nearly all of our 9,000 locations continue to serve our patients and customers."
They are protesting unsafe working conditions.
Pharmacy staff are striking against working conditions they say make it hard to safely fill prescriptions. Some are claiming that the company places unreasonable demand on its workers without providing adequate staffing or resources to meet patient needs in a safe or ethical way, USA Today reported. Because workers are pressured to hit certain targets while being understaffed, they say medication errors are rising.
"We want patients before profits," the walkout organizer, who has worked for Walgreens for more than a decade, told the news outlet. "The company has cut hours drastically while continuing to pile more work and new programs on top of us. Customers are not being taken care of. Our patients are not being cared for. It is not safe."
According to Walgreens employees participating in the walkout, the company assigns each store a set of quotas they need to reach based on how much staff they should have instead of how much they actually have. The result is short-staffed stores scrambling to keep up the pace and making more mistakes as a result. The workers say that puts customers at risk of prescription fill errors or accidental needle sticks during vaccinations.
"I was asked recently, 'Why would you want to close the pharmacy for a few days; that's not good for patients," one of the Walgreens pharmacists participating in the walkout told USA Today. "I think a lot of pharmacists haven't done it because we don't want to cause harm. But are we going to cause harm all day every day? Or are we going to inconvenience people for a few days in a way that might evoke change?"
Walgreens says it is working to address concerns from its employees.
Participating Walgreens employees are asking that the company provide them with three things: transparency in how staff hours are allocated, dedicated training time for each new hire, and a reconfiguration of quotas. Best Life has reached out to Walgreens about the walkout, and we will update this story with their response.
But in a statement to USA Today, the company acknowledged that the last few years have been challenging for its staff and have required an "unprecedented effort" to provide vaccines, fill prescriptions, and perform health screenings amid the COVID pandemic.
"We also understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy right now," Maloney told the news outlet. "We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members. We are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own wellbeing. We are making significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent in harder to staff locations."