UFCW has been listening to your health and safety concerns as pharmacy members who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic at your worksites. We’ve heard you loudly and clearly and we are fighting to ensure you, your families, and your patients are protected. We have taken action to demand employers and the state take these immediate steps to keep you safe:
1. Right to employer provided personal protective equipment:
We demand employers provide personal protective equipment to pharmacists and pharmacy staff. Additionally, no employer may prohibit pharmacists or pharmacy staff from wearing personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment includes – at a minimum – gloves, masks, and goggles. When N95 masks are available, pharmacists and pharmacy staff should receive priority in receiving those masks. Given the statewide shortage of N95 masks, other masks must be available for pharmacists and pharmacy staff if N95 are not available. Additionally, corporate retail pharmacy chains should be required to install plexiglass screens at pharmacy counters.
2. Halt the administration of vaccines in pharmacies not related to COVID-19:
We demand employers immediately halt the administration of non-COVID-19 related vaccines in pharmacies. Pharmacists have shared stories of administering vaccines in close proximity to ill patients without proper personal protective equipment and without proper sanitary measures. Pharmacists should not be required to administer vaccines until protective measures are put in place at grocery-retail pharmacies and then only COVID-19 related vaccines should be administered.
3. Implement social distancing guidelines:
Social distancing guidelines recommend six feet of distancing between people. This should be implemented within all pharmacies in California. Visible floor markers must be implemented to place patients six feet from the pharmacy counter and six feet between patients waiting in line.
4. Proper sanitation of work areas and hand washing opportunities:
Pharmacists and pharmacy staff must be afforded the opportunity to wash their hands every 30 minutes. Health officials recommend hand washing as the best way to limit the transfer of the virus. Furthermore, employers should be responsible for providing pharmacy staff the necessary sanitation equipment. This includes products like sanitizer and disinfecting wipes; the employer must also provide a sanitation crew that is responsible for sanitizing the pharmacy and pharmacy working surfaces throughout the day. Pharmacy staff should be afforded the time in their daily duties to disinfect pharmacy surfaces after interacting with a patient.
5. Adequate staffing:
Pharmacists continue to share that they are working alone during this crisis. Pharmacists should be receiving adequate assistance throughout this crisis to be able to perform their pharmacy duties and to perform these duties safely. At a minimum, pharmacists should have one other pharmacy staff to assist the pharmacist at all times during their shift.
6. Consistent health and safety guidelines for all retail-grocery pharmacies:
The state must release consistent health and safety standards for grocery-retail pharmacies to ensure consistent implementation and enforcement of COVID-19 safety measures for all pharmacies in California. While some pharmacists have seen some safety measures implemented in their stores, there is no consistency across regions or corporations. In order to ensure all pharmacists and pharmacy staff are protected and safe to continue their essential work keeping the public healthy, the state must provide consistent guidelines and enforcement. Additionally, if corporate pharmacies are not implementing safety standards, they must face penalties or fines.
Keeping our pharmacists and pharmacy staff safe and health is of utmost importance during this crisis.
If there are any additional recommendations that you feel are urgent to take to protect your health and safety, please email Jassy@ufcwstatescouncil.org.