The current supply of acetaminophen and ibuprofen cannot keep up with the demand. Companies are making these products as quickly as they can, but it is hard to keep up. 

It can be stressful when children are unwell and products like pain and fever medicines are not available. To help keep acetaminophen or ibuprofen available for everyone, please only buy what you need. 

The product you usually buy may not be available. This page will discuss other options you have. 

If you have any questions surrounding your medicine (including dosage, type, shortages, etc.) or non-medicine solutions, you should always ask a pharmacist or contact us.

Other Medicines

Acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®, generics) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®, generics) are medicines that work on pain and fever. Consider using ibuprofen if acetaminophen isn't available. Do not give acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin®, ASA) to children.

A different product might be a good substitute. Consider a different brand or using a tablet or suppository instead of a liquid. You might be able to use an adult strength and split or crush the tablets. A pharmacist can help you find safe options.

There may be different medicine or non-medicine solutions to manage your child’s symptoms. Talk to a pharmacist about what strategies and solutions would work best for you. 

CHECK THE DOSE. The amount of medicine you give (e.g., 5 mls or 1 tablet) is figured out using your child’s weight and the strength of the product you are giving.  Always read the label on the medicine you are giving. If you are unsure, always check with a pharmacist.

Non-medicine Alternatives

There may be other solutions for managing a child's symptoms. The following resources provide more exhaustive lists for medicine and non-medicine solutions to manage common conditions like fever, colds, and influenza. 

Caring for Kids: This website has pages dedicated to providing caregivers with information about common conditions and how to manage them.

Alberta Health Services Health Education and Learning: this website covers symptoms and treatment of conditions including fever, common cold, influenza, and ear pain. The site also provides printable handouts. The information is available in 4 languages.

Have You Heard About Compounding?

Compounding is when pharmacists make a medicine when a commercially made product is not available. 

Compounded children's pain and fever medicine may not be available at all pharmacies. Check with the pharmacist to see if compounding is an option for you.

Compounded products are different than the products you are used to buying and:

  • may expire more quickly and may need to be stored in the fridge.
  • may be a different strength than the product you usually buy. Double check the dose!

Using Adult Strength Tablets

If infant and children strength pain and fever medicine isn't available, you can think about giving adult strength tablets or caplets (capsule shaped tablet) if available. You may need to adjust the dose based on the weight of your child.

 

Oak Valley Health has charts to help you find the correct amount of adult strength tablets or caplets to give your child (see below). Use your child’s body weight to find out how much of an adult strength product you can give safely. It is important to pay attention to the strength of the product you have on hand.

When giving adult strength medicine, be aware of the following:

  • Do not use products that are “extended release” such as Tylenol Arthritis.
  • Use a pill splitter to help split tablets and caplets.
    • Pill splitters can be purchased in pharmacies.
    • Pill splitters help divide tablets and caplets into equal pieces and help prevent cuts and injuries.
    • Specially coated products such as Tylenol eZ tablets might be harder to split.
  • Always talk to a pharmacist, doctor, or nurse practitioner if you are unsure about giving medicine.

Some children cannot swallow tablets and caplets, to make this easier:

  • Crush the amount to give between two spoons (or with a pill crusher).
  • Mix in small amounts (teaspoon or tablespoon) of soft foods (i.e., peanut butter, pudding, apple sauce).
  • Offer your child something that they like to drink or eat after giving the dose to help get rid of the taste.

Oak Valley Health Charts

Questions for a Pharmacist?

Your local pharmacist can let you about the options that are available to you and answer questions. Stop by your local pharmacy or give them a call.

You can also contact medSask, a free medication information service run by licensed pharmacists. Contact us below.


We will continue to add useful information here as the situation progresses. This page has been updated as of November 24, 2022.