HOLLISTER, Calif. (KION) Pharmacies in Hollister have seen a huge uptick in flu medication sales as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Vitamin C tablets, flu meds and face masks are flying off the shelves at iCare Pharmacy 2 on Sunnyslope Road in Hollister.
"The manufacturer who sells pharmacies masks, we actually had a two day hold because they were actually out of stock on masks and hand sanitizers," said Kirsten Piña, a pharmacist technician at iCare.
"Hearing it reached here is a little bit concerned because it's all the way in China and now it's here," said Melissa Hart, a Hollister resident.
The coronavirus, which already has infected 11 people in the United States, is causing concerns among many in San Benito County, where two residents were taken to a bay area hospital in the last day after showing worsening signs of the illness.
"There's a lot of panic out there, but we just want to assure patients that it's not a big concern as long as you take effective prevention methods," said Dr. Pamela Duong, the iCare pharmacist.
Dr. Duong says the symptoms of the coronvirus are similar to that of the flu: fever, cough and nasal congestion. The main difference, however, is people who have the coronavirus are more susceptible to pneumonia because it impacts the lungs. Pneumonia usually brings with it a very high fever and difficulty breathing.
"You feel like… you have nasal congestion, but it's not the normal kind, you feel like you're drowning in water," said Dr. Duong. "At this point, you need to seek immediate medical attention."
To help monitor flu activity, Dr. Duong says the San Benito County Public Health Department is requiring pharmacies to report the number of flu medications they sell every week.
The best way to prevent getting the coronavirus is similar to prevention measures for other seasonal illnesses: take Vitamin C, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizers and gargle with anti-septic fluids if you have a sore throat.
While the concerns are high now, some feel confident the disease will pass eventually.
"We figured it out before, and while it is sad that people are getting ill and sick, overall we're going to make it through, we've done it a million times," said Angelique Groff, a Hollister resident.