Over-the-counter medications are scarce at the start of the flu season

CLOVIS, California (KFSN) — If you’re looking for cold and cough medicines, chances are store shelves aren’t fully stocked.

With an early flu season and an increase in respiratory illnesses, over-the-counter medications are in short supply.

Pharmacist Darren Lew of the Medicine Shoppe in Clovis says that, unlike the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shortage is not attributed to people stocking up for a rainy day.

“Our over-the-counter medicine to treat cold symptoms has been hard to come by and there are times when we can’t even get it on our shelves,” Lew said. “This season is especially bad because we’ve opened up and we’re getting back to life and I think disease spreads a little more easily.”

Valley Children’s Hospital has an average of 350 to nearly 400 children in the emergency department every day.

“We’re definitely starting to see that surge now as our positivity rate is up more than 40 percent from the week before to last week,” said Complex Care pediatrician Dr. Carmela Sosa.

That number is likely higher because not all children are tested for RSV.

RSV in children: symptoms, treatment and what parents need to know

Last week they confirmed 182 positive cases of RSV, up from 66 the week before.

80 of those children had to be hospitalized.

“We’re also seeing an increase in flu cases, just not as fast or as large a spike as the RSV cases,” said Dr. Sosa.

Children most at risk for complications associated with RSV are babies who were born prematurely, less than 6 months old, or have underlying lung disease.

Symptoms and spread of RSV are similar to the common cold.

“Most people are only contagious for a week or two, but some younger children can shed or spread the virus for several weeks,” said Dr. Sosa.

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