HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT)- As the CDC updates its guidance for masking up, including encouraging wearing N95 or KN95 masks, pharmacists like Butler’s Apothecary owner Chris Butler says demand has made it hard for him to get the product in his pharmacy.

Butler says it’s “almost near impossible” for him to get the mask into his downtown Henderson pharmacy, much less keep them in stock. Butler says demand for the masks has only increased as the pandemic continues but with masks hard to come by, he says he’s had to resort to putting names on a waiting list until masks arrive.

Eyewitness News reached out to several other local pharmacies, who also said they didn’t have the masks, but did find them at hardware stores.

So what makes these masks so special? Indiana University Assistant Director of Public and Environmental Health Graham McKeen says the masks provide better protection than cloth or surgical masks. Unlike surgical masks, McKeen says N95s or similar products can be worn several times, or until they’re “soiled or wet or damaged.”

Still, McKeen and Butler say consumers should be wary of buying the masks online or at non-reputable stores. Butler says it’s not uncommon to find them at gas stations or online but says the masks need to have “some kind of credentialing,” including approval from NIOSH- a federal agency tasked with certifying N95s and similar products. Without it, Butler says “it’s probably not the real deal.”