Pharmacies see more patients, some supply shortages

You might have noticed some gaps on the drugstore shelves. Drugstores have been affected by problems with the supply chain.

"For over-the-counter and prescription medications, we have seen throughout the pandemic, some shortages," said Central Ave Director of Pharmacy Operations Sarah Walton. "And they seem to come and go. Most of the time, we’re able to find a substitute for things. But there are definitely some times where we have shortages that we can’t find a suitable replacement for."

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More and more, people are heading to drugstores to get a COVID shot, as the state relies on local places for the COVID vaccine.

"Pharmacists are doing more, technicians are doing a lot more," said Marra’s Pharmacy’s John McDonald. "We’re doing a lot of vaccines, particularly now that the booster dose has been approved."

This time of year, they’re also doing flu shots.

Add in a national workforce shortage, and in some major chains you’ll see staff doing a lot more.

"Is it challenging, and is it going to be obvious to the average person walking into a pharmacy, like, what are all these people doing here? Yes," said McDonald. "That’s the reason why. There’s going to be a greater demand for service."

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Independent pharmacies like Marra’s and Central Ave have full control over staffing, adjusting it as needed.

Central Ave Pharmacy in Albany is seeing an increased demand for testing, even doing 166 in an eight-hour period recently.

It’s also one of the few in the area offering walk-in COVID testing that’s guaranteed free.

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"It’s really a shame at this point because there is a huge demand for testing right now, and it keeps going up at this point," said Walton. "All the providers are capable of providing this testing service. They can get tests for free from the state, the same way that we do. They can bill insurances for the testing, so there should be no reimbursement problem."