A sign advertising free flu vaccinations is seen at a CVS pharmacy in Orlando, Florida on October 14, 2020.
Paul Hennessey | NurPhoto | Getty Images
CVS Health announced Monday that it plans to hire 15,000 people immediately to prepare for an expected surge in Covid-19 and flu cases this fall and winter.
More than 10,000 of them are full-time and part-time pharmacy technicians who can help dispense medication and perform Covid-19 tests.
Public health officials have warned that Covid-19 cases are likely to increase in the coming months as more Americans spend time indoors in colder weather. Cases are already growing. According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the average daily new cases of coronavirus in 39 states increased by at least 5% weekly on Thursday. More than 63,600 new cases were reported in the US on Thursday, increasing the 7-day average of new cases every day by more than 13% compared to a week ago.
The larger workforce could also help CVS prepare for another important phase of the pandemic: the launch of the Covid-19 vaccine as it becomes available. Federal officials must authorize companies, including CVS, to allow pharmacy technicians to administer the vaccines under the supervision of a vaccination-certified pharmacist.
CVS has spoken out in favor of the change, stating that pharmacy technicians could help accelerate the widespread adoption of the vaccine.
The healthcare company expanded its staff and services during the pandemic. It has more than 4,000 Covid-19 drive-through test stations and has performed nearly 5 million tests. In March, the company announced plans to fill 50,000 roles, from delivery drivers to store clerks, to keep pace with the growing demand for over-the-counter medications, early prescription refills, and more at its 10,000 or so pharmacies in the United States.
Since then, CVS has hired approximately 76,000 full-time, part-time and temporary workers, according to company spokesman Joe Goode. It has around 300,000 employees.
In addition to recruiting pharmacy technicians for the most recent hiring efforts, CVS is also looking for pharmacists, nurses, and medical assistants for the distribution center. The company said many of the new positions are temporary but could become permanent.
Pharmacy technicians are less educated and earn less than pharmacists. They must have a high school diploma or GED and sometimes a license, compared to pharmacists who have to complete years of graduate education.
The pandemic has increased demand for the flu vaccination, a tool advocated by health officials to keep Americans healthy and reduce the confusion between Covid-19 and the similar symptoms of the flu.
CVS expects 18 million flu shots this year – a jump from the 11 million it gave last year, Goode said.