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It’s flu season — and RSV and Covid-19 season, too. And when the 2022 “tripledemic” began, plenty of parents reported a Children’s Tylenol shortage. Although people are reporting fewer empty shelves for pain relievers/fever reducers, there’s still lots of demand for these products in 2023.
So there’s a larger-than-zero chance that you could run into a Children’s Tylenol or Motrin shortage. So what do you do if your neighborhood pharmacy, grocery store, or even Amazon doesn’t have what you need? Here’s what you need to know about this potential product shortage:
The worst of the Children’s Tylenol shortage appears to be over since drug manufacturers ramped up supply.
When the surge of flu, Covid, and RSV cases hit at the start of the 2022 – 23 flu season, demand surged, and plenty of customers across the country found empty shelves.
In response, Tylenol’s manufacturer Johnson & Johnson increased production of Children’s Tylenol, Motrin, and Advil. Johnson & Johnson acknowledged high demand but stated there was not an overall shortage in the U.S. Industry watchers predicted the Tylenol shortage to be short-lived, which appears to be the case. Walgreens and Rite Aid recently lifted their restrictions on how much of these products you can buy.
On Feb. 1, 2023, we easily found Children’s Tylenol and Advil available for purchase on CVS.com and Walgreens.com and Motrin available in store only. And According to the CDC and Yale Medicine, the number of infections in adults and children continues to decline, so demand will follow.
Prescription flu medications are still experiencing shortages.
Although the Children’s Tylenol shortage seems to have passed, there’s been an ongoing shortage of prescription cold/flu medicine for months, and the government says it’s not likely to end soon.
Popular antibiotic Amoxicillin — used to treat illnesses such as ear infections and strep throat — and antiviral drug Tamiflu are in short supply as the tripledemic drags on. U.S. health officials have released supplies of the flu drug Tamiflu from a national stockpile, as many states weren’t adequately prepared for the demand.
If for whatever reason you can’t find Children’s Tylenol, you still have options.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tracks medication shortages, and their official drug shortages website doesn’t currently list Children’s Tylenol, Children’s Advil, or Children’s Motrin as being in short supply. But if for whatever reason you have trouble finding these medications at your neighborhood pharmacy, you have options. Here are some of them:
- Use generics: If generic versions of these name-brand pain relievers are in stock, get them; they’re the same thing.
- Use smaller doses of adult pain relievers: The active drug in adult and kids’ Tylenol is the same; talk to your pharmacist about what dose is ideal for your little patient.
- Call your child’s doctor: Pediatricians may have Children’s Tylenol samples or could write prescriptions for other fever-reducing medications. They could also suggest other remedies.
- Try to order from online retailers like Target.com and Walmart.com: You can check inventory and then opt to have the products held for you, delivered, or shipped. When we looked for Children’s Tylenol, we were easily able to find some that would be shipped or held for us.
Important: Avoid substituting Tylenol or Advil with multi-symptom cold or flu meds like NyQuil. Those products could lead to severe side effects in some kids. And children shouldn’t ever take Aspirin.
You can also try some non-medicinal options to reduce your child’s fever.
Here are a few other things you can do to help your child when they have a fever:
- Give your child a lukewarm bath.
- Place a cool, wet washcloth on their forehead and/or cool, wet socks on their feet.
- Keep your child hydrated with plenty of cold fluids such as water or Pedialyte (popsicles count!).
- Dress your child in light clothing and keep heavy blankets off of them.