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Families deal with children's Tylenol deficiency

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ALBANY — Among the Eleven antics and images of the menorah in social feeds are photos of empty store shelves and pleas from desperate parents seeking Tylenol for kids that evoke memories of the spring of 2020 when personal care products were nearly impossible to find. find were.

The shortfall, which began earlier this month and has not eased, is due to a combination of factors, local experts said.

“If a drug or product is hard to find, it’s because demand for the product has increased,” says Linda Lombardi, a pharmacist at Young’s Pharmacy in Averill Park. “One of the reasons demand is so high is that everyone is sick.”

Influenza in New York was categorized as geographically widespread for the 10th consecutive week, with hospitalizations increasing sharply from week to week, according to a Dec. 10 flu report from the State Department of Health. Last week saw a nearly 20 percent increase in flu testing with three flu-related pediatric deaths.

But flu is far from the only concern. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, continues to be a problem for children. Respiratory illnesses, such as the flu and RSV, often cause fevers, and pediatric formulations such as liquid acetaminophen and ibuprofen are where parents turn to help their sick children.

Tylenol reduces fever, and it’s considered a safe product,” Lombardi said. “So it’s a top choice for pharmacists and doctors.” In addition to Tylenol, many pharmacies also carry their own generic brands of children’s acetaminophen.

The White House released information last week that supply is plentiful — it’s demand that’s impacting shelves.

Michelle Murphy, founder of Capital District Moms, a local group for parents, has been searching the Capital Region for ibuprofen and acetaminophen for kids and shares with her followers where she got lucky in finding the fever-reducing drug. Her top two tips: Check smaller stores, like Stewart’s. Also, stores such as Walmart or Target will often say the drug is not available when you try to pick it up. But if you go in and check the shelves, you might be in luck.

Dr. Gloria Guptill, an internal medicine physician at the Delmar Community Care Physicians office, has been watching her patients cope with the shortage over the past month. Guptill, who is a mother, has also struggled to find children’s Tylenol for her family.

“Ever since this pandemic started, avoiding illness is key,” says Guptill, who has become something of a trusted and authoritative medical voice to her more than 16,000 followers on Facebook. “Keeping kids home from school when they’re sick, wearing masks in crowds, etc. We’re being hit hard by viruses right now.”

For most children, the viruses are self-limited, and with rest, fluids and TLC, the children will do well, Guptill said.

But despite that reassurance, the feeling of desperation to help your child is intense when you’re a parent who is sick.

“People thought the toilet paper shortage was bad, but you can use other things for toilet paper,” Murphy said. “If you didn’t have toilet paper, you could survive. If you didn’t have Tylenol, there would be a problem.”

Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Tylenol, says it is ramping up production, Guptill said, so hopefully the shortage will ease in the new year.