Cold medicine shortage: COVID surge, flu season leading to empty shelves

New COVID infections continue to shoot up at a rapid pace, and the spread is running right into cold and flu season.

It’s all leading to another shortage on store shelves: cold medicine.

Shoppers across DFW are encountering shelves that are empty or close to it.

One employee at an East Dallas pharmacy called it "the new toilet paper shortage."

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In three days, there were nearly 13,000 new COVID cases in Dallas County. That’s on average a little more than 4,000 cases per day. 

With omicron being so contagious and COVID symptoms similar to the cold and flu, over-the-counter medicines are flying off shelves. 

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There’s another shortage to report on store shelves. This time it’s not toilet paper, or masks or take-home tests or hand sanitizer. Cold medicine and cough syrup are in short supply.

A quick check of a little more than half a dozen pharmacies and grocery stores in Dallas revealed the same thing: empty shelves in the cold and flu aisle.

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One pharmacist at a CVS location in East Dallas said many customers have been buying medication because they are having COVID or flu-like symptoms. But they’ve also seen people just stocking up.

At a Walmart location in Northeast Dallas, it was a similar sight. Cold and flu medication were gone.

"I’m not surprised that the shelves may be thin," said shopper Steve Corder.

"Health and wellness is at the center of our thoughts like never ever before," said shopper Lee Ann Longinotti. "And I think that when things are out of our control and in a pandemic, we want to be as prepared as possible."

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The shelves at Kroger on Mockingbird weren’t completely empty, but items like cough medicine and cough drops were not available. 

Shopper Heather King said other items like humidifiers are also scarce. 

"I’ve been to three, and I’ve searched online," she said. "I’m just seeing empty shelves, every kind of humidifier has just been sold out."

FOX 4 reached out to CVS and Walgreens about product shortages, but there was no immediate response.

Even though more people are getting sick and being hospitalized, health officials say compared to the delta variant, illness appears to be overall less severe, especially in those who are already vaccinated. 

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