“Since the vaccine got approved, our numbers have just gone through the roof,” said Scott Knoer, the association’s chief executive.
Pharmacy technicians, too, are in high demand. They traditionally have done things like loading syringes and checking people in. Until recently, only a few states allowed the technicians to give shots. But the Trump administration in October issued guidance authorizing them to administer Covid-19 vaccines under the supervision of a pharmacist.
While not all vaccine providers are letting technicians give the shots, the regulatory change is creating thousands of new vaccinators.
Ms. Shah, the Walgreens executive, said the combination of the chain’s hiring and the rule change meant Walgreens would have about 45,000 employees nationwide who could provide Covid-19 vaccines, up from nearly 27,000 pharmacists. That “definitely increases the number of vaccinations we can provide as vaccine becomes plentiful,” she said.
In December and January, the American Pharmacists Association’s immunization training program for pharmacy technicians enrolled about 30,000 people. Between 2016 and 2019, an earlier iteration of the program enrolled a total of 650, said Kimberly McKeirnan, an associate professor at Washington State’s pharmacy college who designed the training.
While most vaccinators are being hired by big pharmacy chains, small independent pharmacies are hiring, too. Brooke Powell, a pharmacy technician at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, had been looking for a part-time job on weekends to get involved in the vaccination effort.
She had been in talks with CVS and Walgreens but ultimately decided to work for an independent store, O’Reilly Family Pharmacy. Ms. Powell liked that the owner was connected in the community, which she thought would help in planning vaccination clinics for churches, schools and local companies.
“I am not sure the chain pharmacies would take as much care,” Ms. Powell said.
The O’Reilly pharmacy is hoping to receive its first vaccine shipment this week and to start inoculating people soon after.