Corvallis pharmacies face long lines during COVID-19, flu season


Solomon Myers, Photographer

The Fred Meyer pharmacy located at 777 NW Kings Blvd. in Corvallis, Ore. on Oct. 27. COVID-19 immunizations, flu shots and the closing of the Oregon State University student pharmacy are all potential factors leading to local pharmacies experiencing longer lines and wait times.

Adam Figgins, News Contributor

With ongoing COVID-19 vaccinations, the closing of the student pharmacy and flu season arriving, most pharmacies in Corvallis, Ore. are experiencing higher traffic and as a result, longer wait times. 

Stephen Certo is the director of pharmacy operations for the Portland division of Safeway and Albertsons stores, which includes all three Safeway locations in Corvallis. Certo attributed the longer lines to immunizations.

It’s directly related to the COVID-19 virus—including still administering first and second doses, doses for immunocompromised patients and booster doses for Pfizer along with the flu season,” Certo said. “Many stores are reporting increased wait times due, again, to the demand [for vaccinations]”.

Despite many pharmacies being overwhelmed, Corvallis Safeway locations have seen shorter lines than the other businesses in town.

“We are working hard to help our customers and will continue to send additional help when we have it available, recruit new pharmacists and technicians, along with providing nurses in many locations to help with the demand,” Certo said.

The Corvallis Fred Meyer is experiencing similar high demand like other pharmacies. The line at the store has lately been extending into the produce section. 

A pharmacist from Fred Meyer said there has recently been a large influx of students. According to them, there are two wait times related to the issue: how long it takes for the pharmacy to get medication ready, and how long patrons have to wait in line for pick up. Traditionally, those wait times have been low—typically three days to get medication ready, and a three to 10-minute wait for pick up. 

The pharmacist also said during Oregon State University’s move-in week, orders surged. 

The increase in student traffic may be due to OSU’s student pharmacy having closed in June due to revenue not being enough to justify it staying in business.

The Fred Meyer location has seen its team decrease in size with the departure of some of the staff as well. The pharmacist said wait times can be up to five days and waiting in line to pick up medications can take up to an hour. According to them, current employees at Corvallis Fred Meyer pharmacy have never seen lines as long as they are now. 

Similar stories about long lines have come from the Rite Aid on Ninth Street and Circle Boulevard.

Max Kunze is a third-year student at OSU studying criminology and gets his prescription from Rite Aid. Kunze said he has had some difficulty getting his prescription from the location.

“It’s been two months and I haven’t been able to get my prescription,” Kunze said. “I do think [Rite Aid] is super understaffed, because when I went there, the drive-thru was going hard and the walk-in [line] was pretty long; I waited an hour on walk-in and there [were] only three people there.”

Kunze thinks the pharmacy has become much busier since the start of the pandemic.

“I used to be able to get my prescription the same day, and now I have to go in four times a week and they still don’t have any of my prescriptions,” Kunze said. “I think it’s been going on [like this] for around ten months.”

Rite Aid did not respond for comment in time for publication.

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