If you go to your local CVS for your annual flu vaccine, don’t be surprised if the person giving you the shot in the arm isn’t the pharmacist.

On Tuesday, CVS announced that it was recruiting 15,000 qualified candidates for new full- and part-time jobs at its retail stores across the country. More than 10,000 of those positions are for licensed pharmacy technicians to help with the increased demand for flu shots this fall and winter.

The company is also hiring full-time, work-from-home customer service representatives for its CVS Caremark and CVS Specialty Pharmacy, as well as pharmacists, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, member benefit case professionals and distribution center employees.

Pharmacy technicians to offer patient care

“We’re looking for 10,000 pharmacy technicians to help pharmacists offer patient care during a really challenging time right now,” a spokesperson for CVS Health told Medical Daily. “Basically, what we’re hoping to do is widen our bench and have more individuals on the team.”

Along with administering vaccinations, pharmacy technicians will also help process prescriptions, dispense medications and provide information to customers. The goal, the spokesperson said, was to free up pharmacists to do what they are trained to do.

The company is also advocating for an expanded scope of practice that would allow trained pharmacy technicians to do COVID-19 testing, as well as administer COVID-19 vaccinations under the supervision of an immunization-certified pharmacist.

“The additional pharmacy technician staff would also bolster our COVID-19 testing efforts at our 4,000 drive-thru testing locations and prepare for the possibility of administering the coronavirus vaccine to the public once approved,” the spokesperson said.

More flu shots this year

COVID-19 has also influenced more people to roll up their sleeves for a flu shot this year. CVS doubled its purchases of flu vaccine to 18 million doses, after a company commissioned survey found that 66% of Americans wanted to be immunized this year, according to the spokesperson. That is almost double the number who said they would, in January. The survey also found that 54% said they would get immunized earlier this year.

“That illustrates the increase in need and demand that the general public and consumers are feeling,” the spokesperson said. “We really need to further strengthen our already solid workforce to meet that demand.”

The company has begun virtual job fairs and virtual interviews and job tryouts (cvs.jobs). It is particularly interested in helping workers in professions like hospitality and travel who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19.

“There has been a prioritization for some of those displaced workers to be able to provide an opportunity for them to continue their careers while connecting them to some of the CVS Health business needs,” the spokesperson said. “We are really adapting to that new normal and trying to find ways to increase our support, both for our customers and patients and also to get as many Americans back to work as possible.”

Joint venture between Walgreens and CVS

In addition to hiring more pharmacy techs, CVS has joined forces with another pharmacy chain, Walgreens, to partner with Operation Warp Speed. This is the White House task force that is working to, not only develop a vaccine for COVID-19, but ensure it gets to the populations that need it most, such as those in long-term care facilities. There will be no charge for the vaccines distributed in the facilities, which cover skilled nursing homes, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, residential care homes and adult family homes.

"Our nation's elderly living in long-term care facilities are one of the most vulnerable populations. With early access to a vaccination, we can help keep them, and the staff caring for them, healthy and safe," Troyen Brennan, MD, CVS chief medical officer, said in an article published in Beckers Hospital Review.

“Our unprecedented public-private partnership with CVS and Walgreens will provide convenient and free vaccination to residents of nursing homes across America, another historic achievement in our efforts to get a safe and effective vaccine to Americans as fast as possible," Alex Azar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in the article.