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Kansas City CVS pharmacists just walked out on the job. Here's why

FILE- In this Aug. 7, 2018, file photo a CVS Pharmacy building sign rests on a Jackson, Miss., store. CVS Health reports financial results Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Gene J. Puskar/AP
The staged walkouts late last week caused the temporary closure of at least 12 pharmacies last Friday.

With demand high for new COVID vaccines, some CVS pharmacies around the Kansas City area weren't able to give out shots because of a pharmacist walkout. Organizers are demanding better working conditions and said that extremely limited staffing puts CVS pharmacists and patients at risk.

Almost two dozen pharmacists at CVS locations across the Kansas City metro walked out on the job late last week, causing the temporary closure of at least 12 pharmacies on Friday.

Ron Fitzwater, chief executive officer of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, told KCUR that the walkouts come after years of trouble in the industry.

“Something's got to give, and these pharmacists finally said we're understaffed to the point we're not able to meet our commitments to the Board of Pharmacy, so they took matters into their own hands,” he said.

Protesters say CVS has cut back on staffing despite a growing demand for prescriptions and vaccines.

CVS Executive Vice President Prem Shah apologized to the pharmacists in Kansas City, and organizers returned to work this Thursday after reaching an agreement with management.

However, that doesn't mean another walkout won't happen in the future.

"If the promises that were made to them, which include a reduction in vaccination scheduling, a commitment to hire more pharmacists and pharmacy technicians... I would imagine that the walkout would happen again," USA Today senior investigative reporter Emily Le Coz told KCUR.

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