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Pulse oximeters flying off store shelves during coronavirus pandemic

Wellington pharmacy owners sells 5,500 of the devices this year
Pulse oximeter
Posted at 3:55 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 19:34:29-05

WELLINGTON, Fla. — Since the pandemic started, a Wellington pharmacy owner said people have been rushing to buy one item in particular -- a pulse oximeter.

It is a small device that measures the level of oxygen in the blood.

Johnny Meier monitors his oxygen saturation using the device.

"Then my oxygen level is anywhere from 98 to 100, which is good," said Meier, who owns My Community Pharmacy in Wellington.

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Johnny Meier, the owner of My Community Pharmacy in Wellington, says he has sold about 5,500 pulse oximeters this year.
Wellington pharmacy owner Johnny Meier says he has sold around 5,500

He said he's been selling the small devices for years, typically selling one every few months before the pandemic began.

But things changed this year.

"Since March, I've sold probably around 5,500 of them and not just to the general public in our community here in Wellington, but also to pharmacies across the country," Meier said.

Because COVID-19 affects the respiratory system, customers started buying pulse oximeters.

But who should be using the device?

Dr. Luis Peña-Hernandez, a Palm Beach County pulmonologist, shared some advice.

"If you are a patient who has chronic lung condition and need to check oxygen saturation on a regular basis because you are susceptible to requiring oxygen, or patients who go into the hospital frequently for lung conditions, then you should have a pulse oximeter," Peña-Hernandez said.

Dr. Luis Peña-Hernandez
Dr. Luis Peña-Hernandez, a Palm Beach County pulmonologist, says people with a chronic lung condition or the coronavirus should consider getting a pulse oximeter.

People who have a confirmed case of the coronavirus might want to consider getting one of the devices.

"If you are a person who was recently diagnosed, for example, with COVID-19 or with pneumonia, and are recommended to be at home, it might be useful to check your oxygen saturation in that particular circumstance. Because if it runs low, it may be an indication to seek medical attention," Peña-Hernandez said.

The doctor said it's best to ask your doctor if you need one.

Meanwhile, Meier said if someone needs one, supplies are going fast.

"Now, I'm down to about 250, and once I run out, I won't be able to replenish until next year," Meier said.