WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Pharmacies in Washington, D.C., and across the country say the race to get boosters in the arms of Americans is all about demand staffing — especially in larger cities with already high vaccination rates. Grubb’s Pharmacy managing pharmacist Damika Walker said she thinks of her eight-hour shifts in sets of five and 10 minutes.
“We test every five. We vaccinate every 10. So yeah, it’s a pretty packed schedule,” said Walker. She spends most of her days prepping the arms of booster recipients and giving the injections.
However, getting an appointment for the shot, which the Biden administration said may be the key to protecting Americans from concerns over the omicron variant, may depend on where you live. In Washington, D.C., pharmacies large and small are sometimes booked solid for two to three weeks.
When NewsNation tried to book an appointment for Walgreens, there was nothing available in the D.C. area for weeks. When we changed the zip code to Abilene, Texas, we were able to schedule a shot almost immediately. The rush for boosters is overwhelming pharmacists in metro areas such as New York, D.C., and San Francisco.
“It’s great because the supply is there for us to be able to administer the vaccinations. But now it’s the issue of having the staff to be able to accommodate everybody in a timely fashion,” Walker said.
In a statement to NewsNation, Walgreens said:
“Over the last week, we have seen an elevated demand for vaccinations and testing. Our teams are working to ensure our customers are being cared for to support this demand.”
Experts said they’re seeing the booster demand peak due to omicron dominating news and people wanting to get boosted in time for holiday gatherings. Paige Vargas didn’t have an appointment for another two weeks but was able to get in because of a cancellation.
“I looked online earlier this week … and there’s a cancellation for today. So I snagged that,” she said. But some like her will have to wait a little longer.
When asked if the White House was considering mobilizing booster mass vaccination sites like the U.S. saw in the spring, a Biden administration official said more than a million people are being boosted a day — more than ever and they’re working with states, pharmacies, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer more community sites for people — including on evenings and weekends.