HONOLULU (KHON2) — Having a hard time finding cold and flu medicine for your sick keiki? You’re not alone. It’s a sight that’s become all too common recently, barren shelves once fully stocked with children’s cold and flu medicine.

“Our shelves have been empty for a couple of weeks now,” explained Megan Arbles, KTA Superstores Pharmacy Operations Director on Hawaii Island.

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She said parents have been coming in panicked.

“They’ve been told to manage their symptoms with Tylenol or ibuprofen in the liquid form and they just can’t find it anywhere,” said Arbles.

She said they’ve been struggling to get medications like Tylenol and ibuprofen, combination cough and cold treatments, Tamiflu and much more.

“Some shortages in amoxicillin in the liquid form for pediatrics, also Cefdinir suspension — those are probably the top two prescribed antibiotics for you know, upper respiratory infections in children,” Arbles explained.

She’s not sure when they’ll get another shipment in, but said when they do, they’ll likely put limits on how many customers can buy.

“Just so we can ensure that there’s not a hoarding situation happening,” said Arbles.

According to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the problem isn’t a lack of supply.

In a statement CHPA said:
“Manufacturers continue operating at maximum capacity to replenish children’s pain and fever reducers to meet current extraordinary demand. While there is not a widespread shortage and our member companies are continuously shipping out products to retailers to replenish supply as quickly as possible, we recognize that limited products on store shelves is frustrating for parents and caregivers. With demand for these products increasing by 65% from this same time last year, we also understand why some retailers have voluntarily set limits on purchases to ensure the availability of these products to as many consumers as possible.”

“Our member companies are also focused on ensuring equitable distribution of these medicines to retailers, working with them to direct product to locations where it is needed most, while at the same time doing everything possible to make sure hospitals have children’s pain and fever reducers on hand.”

“In terms of when supply will fully catch up with demand, we are encouraged by new figures from the CDC that indicate flu cases in the U.S. have declined for the third straight week and hope this will lessen demand in the near future.”

But here on the islands, Pediatrician Theresa Wee said she doesn’t think we’ve peaked yet, so it may take a little longer.

“We have been inundated with so many sick children,” Wee said. “They have the common cold, we’ve had a few COVID-19, we’ve had a few influenza. Earlier a few months ago, we had a few RSV infections, but we’re seeing the whole gamut. And children are coming in with one illness after another.”

Even though it’s hard to find medicine she has a message for parents.

“Don’t panic,” she said. “And if you do find the medication, don’t hoard it.”

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If you aren’t able to find it, Wee said the most important thing to do is keep your child hydrated.
But she said never give them aspirin or adult medicine. And if they have a hard time breathing or their fever gets too high, especially for kids two-years-old and under, call their doctor and take them to the ER.