Pharmacists and pharmacy techs across the state say they're exhausted and desperate for relief from this third wave of COVID-19 cases.
"One of their biggest fears is I am going to make a mistake and it is going to cost someone's life. Someone is going to make a mistake and it will cost someone's life or their family's life. It is no longer about me. I am a danger to the public and I have to retrieve myself," said local pharmacist Dr. Bled Tanoe.
Tanoe has started a social media campaign called #PizzaIsNotWorking. She said pharmacists are burned out and tired of being rewarded with pizza instead of getting help with their grueling schedules. She wants to see major changes in the way the pharmacy’s parent company supports the business.
She said general mistrust of medical professionals is taking a toll as well.
"We are asking them to realize that our job is to make sure they are safe. That is our number one job," said Tanoe.
Tanoe is frustrated as her and her coworkers have taken on extra responsibility, including administering shots and COVID tests on top of their day-to-day work.
"Something is going to have to change. Because people are tired, people are leaving, people are suffering. And if pharmacists are retail pharmacists and technicians are not at the front of everything, who is going to fill your prescription?" said Tanoe.
Another point of contention, pay.
Because of the stress, many people are leaving the field and that only adds to the stress for remaining staff.
"There are people who have been in the profession for 20 to 40 years who love being pharmacists who say I can't do this anymore. And when people who have been in the industry that long say that they can't do it anymore you know it is very severe," said Tanoe.
"Moving forward our board has said if you find that inadequate staffing is in position we are going to move forward with stronger regulations and stronger cases against pharmacies that can't staff correctly," said Marty Hendrick with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy.
Hendrick said he is working to help all the pharmacists in the state.
"Our mission here at the board of pharmacy is obviously public safety but it is also for the wellbeing of our pharmacists and technicians," Hendrick said.