British Columbia·Video

Supply shortage of some children's Tylenol products a worry for some parents

High demand caused by the COVID-19 Omicron variant and the popularity of the Tylenol brand is leading to empty drug store shelves, says a retail expert.

Tylenol says the shortages are temporary and due to record high demand

Some children's medications, including Children's Tylenol, are in short supply. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Allison Wolinsky, a mother of three, estimates she's been to 10 different Vancouver drugstores over the past six months in search of children's Tylenol tablets. 

The off-the-shelf medication is what doctors often recommend to reduce fever in sick children, but supply problems have left many store shelves picked clean of the product.

For Wolinsky, the problem hit home a few weeks ago when her daughter came down with COVID-19.

"She had a high fever and we were needing to give her some Tylenol to bring down the fever and she refused the liquid [Tylenol]. In fact when we gave it to her, she threw it up. So we had to go to a family member to get some pills that they had left over," she said.

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC), which deals with supply chain issues on behalf of retailers, says the Tylenol shortage can be traced to the popularity of the brand and a bad cough and cold season related to the COVID-19 Omicron variant. 

"The demand is unprecedented for these cold and cough products, particularly for children's products," said Greg Wilson of the RCC's Pacific office.

"Speak to your pharmacist, speak to your doctor, see what other products are applicable. Some retailers will have brought in different products to manage the [shortage]."

WATCH | A Tylenol supply shortage Canada-wide:

Children’s Tylenol shortage concerning parents

1 year ago
Duration 1:49
A bad cold and flu season, along with the popularity of the Tylenol brand, is causing a shortage of some children’s Tylenol products on store shelves. Experts advise concerned parents not to worry as pharmacies can provide alternatives such as liquid Tylenol.

A message on the Tylenol website acknowledges customer frustration, citing "record high demand" for products.

"...Although we're producing and shipping at an all-time high, we are experiencing a temporary shortage in some areas of Canada," reads the post. 

In a statement to CBC, Tylenol, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, said, "We are taking all possible measures to ensure product availability."

Erin Aubrey says her young daughter was given children's Tylenol at B.C. Children's Hospital when she came down with a croupy cough. Upon discharge, doctors advised it be administered every four to six hours. Unable to find any at several stores, Aubrey ended up substituting a different medication.

"Not having the ability to give it to her as an option was a little bit scary. I thought we'd just end up back at the hospital and hopefully they'll have some," she said. 

Wolinsky says she too has reluctantly resorted to a different brand of children's medication.

"I just feel Tylenol is safer for bringing down a fever," she said.

Wilson says the Tylenol shortage is being felt across Canada. He says expects the situation to improve through the summer months when illness is typically less in the general population.


Karin Larsen


Karin Larsen is a former Olympian and award winning sports broadcaster who covers news and sports for CBC Vancouver.

With files from Michelle Gomez, Jon Hernandez