- A combination of COVID-19, flu, and RSV has made kids sick and skyrocketed demand for medications.
- But the demand for that medicine has far exceeded the supply, experts say, causing shortages.
- CVS, Target, and Walgreens have all put limits on the amount of children’s meds parents can buy.
And now, a shortage of children’s medications is leaving parents scrambling to care for their kids as three potentially deadly diseases permeate the United States.
Four parents told Insider about their struggles dealing with yet another supply crisis of a critical child health item. Many have felt angry and stressed by these shortages, with some saying it reminds them of the early days of the COVID pandemic when it was difficult to find certain items at stores.
Parents can’t find children’s medicine
Caroline Moore’s 3-year-old son has “basically been sick” since he started preschool in September, she said. The child’s doctor recommended Moore purchase children’s Motrin to alternate with Tylenol.
But she was out of luck.
“They had absolutely none on the shelves, only a generic chewable NSAID for kids, and I didn’t think he’d chew it,” said Moore, who didn’t provide her location or which store she went to.
She added that not being able to find medicine is “very stressful on top of having a sick toddler in a tripledemic” — the term used to refer to the flaring of COVID-19; the flu; and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
Why children’s Tylenol and other drugs are in short supply
The explosion of the three illnesses has left parents demanding more medications than stores and suppliers anticipated — leading to a shortage.
“Everybody is sick, and everybody needs medicine at once,” and companies can’t keep up with the high demand, Joanna Dolgoff, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatricians, told the Washington Post this month.
And with short supply, retailers from CVS to Walgreens to Target have limited the amount of children’s pain medication customers can purchase at once.
Srividya Chandrashekhar is one worried mother who needed medicine earlier in the month, as her 9-year-old daughter faced flu-like symptoms.
When she arrived at her local CVS in San Diego County, California, she only spotted two bottles of children’s Tylenol left on the shelves. She only took one: “I really didn’t want to empty the shelf.”
“It felt very discouraging and frustrating to find empty shelves as my kid was ill,” Chandrashekhar said.
Those who don’t have sick children but need the pain medication for other reasons have also suffered.
Monica Rohleder went skiing with her family in Mammoth Lakes, California, earlier this month. When her nine-year-old daughter hurt her back while skiing, Rohleder and her husband went to a local Rite Aid for children’s Tylenol or aspirin — only to find nothing.
“My husband said it felt like we were back to COVID hoarding days,” Rohleder told Insider, “It felt pretty scary and stressful that if our child had been really bad off, there would have not been anything to help her.”
‘Lucky’ dad’s 5th trip to CVS
David Slotnick, a former Insider reporter, said that his 4-month-old son has begun to show signs that he’s about to start teething, which can cause immense pain in infants. Because of that and the tripledemic, Slotnick’s pediatrician recommended they keep infant Tylenol and Motrin in their medicine cabinet.
But when he went to a CVS in the Boston area, he couldn’t find any vials of the medicine. Nor could he at the second. It took him until his third CVS to find only a single bottle of infant Tylenol. And he didn’t get the infant Motrin until he tried his fifth CVS.
“All in all we’re lucky,” he said. “We didn’t need the meds immediately, and it only took me a few hours of looking to find a bottle of each med. I can’t imagine if we’d waited till we really needed them urgently and had a sick baby to contend with during the hunt.”
He added: “Finding infant medicines now is as frustrating as trying to find formula a few months ago.”
Having trouble finding medications for your child? Contact reporter Ben Tobin on email at email@example.com or on Signal at +1 703-498-9171.