Skip navigation
CVS placard.jpg Getty Images
CVS CEO Karen Lynch was speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Monday.

CEO of CVS says burnout, heavy workload caused pharmacists to walk off job

The retailer has responded with a list of promises to make working conditions better

CVS pharmacists in Kansas City walked off the job last week to protest working conditions, and the company’s CEO says the demand put on employees has been overwhelming since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

CVS CEO Karen Lynch was speaking at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Monday and pointed to two reasons for the walkout: burnout from the pandemic and a high demand for COVID-19 boosters this fall, reports Fortune.

Pharmacists in Kansas City called in sick for three days in late September — forcing some stores to close — before CVS’s Chief Pharmacy Officer and President of Pharmacy and Consumer Wellness Prem Shah met with the disgruntled group and worked out a plan moving forward.

Shah issued a memo apologizing for not acting sooner and promised a series of measures to alleviate concerns. Some of those steps included providing “additional resources” to stores, adjusting appointments, filling open positions, and removing unnecessary tasks for pharmacists.

Walgreens pharmacists continued the stance on Monday when groups across the country walked off the job due to heavy workloads.

“We understand the immense pressures felt across the U.S. in retail pharmacy right now,” Walgreens said in a statement provided to Supermarket News. “We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members. We are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own wellbeing. We are making significant investments in pharmacist wages and hiring bonuses to attract/retain talent in harder to staff locations.”

However, it is not just a demand for COVID-19 boosters that has caused the pharmacists to reach a breaking point. The Fall season is particularly busy with a rise in respiratory illnesses, and then there are those seeking other vaccines for the flu and RSV.

As for Lynch’s claim about the surge in those wanting the new COVID-19 booster, Fortune could not get anyone to back it up.

Reuters also recently reported that Pfizer expects just 24% of Americans will receive the shot this year.


CVS CEO Karen Lynch believes burnout and an ongoing heavy workload due to the new COVID-19 booster led CVS pharmacists to stage a walkout last week. Walgreen workers are protesting this week. Do you think the retailers will make some meaningful changes to improve the working conditions, or are they too financially strapped to make much of a difference? 
Let us know in the comments below or email your thoughts to the SN staff at [email protected]. Be sure to include your full name and work title.




Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.