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Tripledemic: What parents can do at home amid children’s medication shortage

Children’s medicines have been in high demand, with empty shelves being seen at several local drug stores.

Just this week, Walgreens and CVS limited the amount people can purchase in-store and online.

“When I went, all of the Tylenol, the kids Advil, cough medicine, it was an empty shelf," said Palm Desert mom Jessica Montes.

Montes made a trip to Walgreens hoping to find medicine for her daughter, Paige, who’s come down with a cold.

“I've been feeling like I have a sore throat and like, coughing a lot. I have some congestion like my mom is just trying to keep me safe," said 9-year-old Paige.

Instead of finding children’s medication, Montes was met with empty shelves and a sign citing supply shortages.

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Montes tells us she’s especially worried, as we’re in the middle of the holiday season.

“It is a bit, you know, unfortunate," she explained, "And it's very disturbing only because you know, we all want to ensure our kids are healthy and well, especially during the holidays and then going back into school in the next couple of weeks.”

It’s the same situation at CVS, which is limiting kid’s medications to two per customer. Fortunately, it doesn’t limit the alternatives parents can take.


Associate Chief of Pediatrics at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, Dr. Chad Vercio, tells us if a child has a fever- it doesn’t always warrant for medication.

“The first question is, is the medication actually necessary? And often, it's actually not," he explained. Really just knowing when it's appropriate… if they don't necessarily have a fever, but their energy levels are below normal, and they're not even drinking, then that's an appropriate time to give Tylenol or ibuprofen.” 

Dr. Vercio also explained that a fever is not always a bad thing.

“It's also really important for parents to know that the fever is actually often beneficial. It's really not dangerous until likely over 106," he explained. "Fever can actually be helpful. It helps the body fight off the virus, or in unlikely situations, bacteria that may be causing the infection."

Depending on your child’s weight and age, he says parents don’t have to specifically use children’s medication. Parents can opt for smaller doses of regular Advil and Tylenol. If those aren't available, any generic ibuprofen or acetaminophen works just the same.

“You should be able to give that 200 milligram tablet, crush it up, and then mix it into some yogurt or applesauce," Dr. Vercio said. "If your kid is over about 20 pounds, it's probably okay for them to get one of the chewable Tylenol or acetaminophen tablets.”

Although he suggest a lower dosage, he does not recommend cutting the medications down yourself.

“It's probably not a good idea to cut them in half, because then you know, are you giving them exactly half of the tablet, you know, that might be a little bit more questionable.”

Dr. Vercio also says there are other ways to treat them at home.

"Using tepid bath water, or, you know, removing some of their warm clothing, even though they might feel a little bit cold, taking some of their clothing off so that they're not all bundled up, and then keeping all that heat within them."

If you’re ever unsure of something, he encourages parents to call your pediatrician or nurse with any questions.

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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