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Parents looking for Children's Tylenol or Motrin may find empty shelves

Flu, RSV and COVID are making a lot of kids sick right now and that's why parents might see empty store shelves when shopping for fever reducers.

HOUSTON — As if caring for a sick child isn't tough enough, a lot of parents are having a hard time finding fever reducers for their kids.

Johnson & Johnson makes Children's Tylenol and Children's Motrin. The company said there's no supply chain issue or nationwide shortage, but admitted the high demand is leaving some shelves empty.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN that all but six states are experiencing high or very high respiratory virus levels so over-the-counter children's medicines are in short supply.

"We're facing an onslaught of three viruses — COVID, RSV and influenza. All simultaneously," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University told NPR. "We're calling this a tripledemic."

A Kelsey-Seybold pediatrician in Houston said he's seen it first-hand.

"Very, very busy for the past three, four months," Dr. Chikku Paul said. "Lots of RSV, lots of flu and kids getting the same thing back to back." 

He's hearing from parents who are worried because they can't find Children's Tylenol.

We checked in with several stores that are down to a few in stock or none at all. Even Amazon said deliveries are a couple weeks out.  

Dr. Paul said if the child's fever is below 101 and they seem to feel Ok, you probably don't need to give them medicine. He recommends a lukewarm sponge bath and lots of liquids. He said older children over a certain weight may be able to take adult versions but you should always check with your pediatrician first.

Houston's top doctor urged everyone to get their flu vaccine, especially young children and older people because they're the most vulnerable.

Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department said this season's flu is hitting people of all ages really hard.

"This year, it came on very heavy, strong, very fast," Persse said.

He said fewer flu cases in recent years is playing a part.

"Those who would have gotten infected a year or two ago had some degree of immunity," Persse said. "This year. there is no immunity because they didn’t have it."

RSV cases in kids also surged earlier than usual.

With the peak of the holiday season still to come, the tripledemic isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

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