Happy 2023! It’s that time of year. The temps have dropped and the seasonal yuckies have skyrocketed. The so called “tripledemic” we were warned about all over the media seems to be really happening. Rates of the flu, RSV and COVID-19 have jumped. Emergency rooms, urgent cares and hospitals are getting packed. As if this isn’t enough for any parent, we have substantial over the counter and prescription drug shortages.
I was one of the unlucky families to have sick kids on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the entire week after, despite my strictest efforts of handwashing and vaccinating all three of my kids for both flu and COVID in the fall. We still came down with flu A, which caused high fevers, sore throats, coughs and the whole nine yards in my older two kids. I am usually pretty good about keeping a stock pile of every variety of children’s OTC medicine in the house.
However, with two older children taking acetaminophen/Tylenol pretty much round the clock, the tiny chewable bottles go way too quickly. We now have children’s acetaminophen shortages. Add this to the ever growing shortages in America anymore. In addition to amoxicillin suspensions (liquid) being limited, go to any local store and you’re going to be hard pressed to find children’s Tylenol in chewable or even the liquid form. For my readers, I wanted to remind everyone that for the most part you can still find ibuprofen/children’s Advil and Motrin. It’s worth remembering that you can alternate for older kids and infants (older than six months), with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. I also was able to find infant/young toddlers acetaminophen suppositories at Walmart. This is your same old acetaminophen; it is just administered via the rectal route. Not pleasant, but us moms do what we have to do. The indications are ages 6-36 months. It is worth keeping in mind for the sick little ones as these shortages are likely to continue through the winter months.
As this viral season continues, it’s also worth remembering our basic hand hygiene. It amazes me to this day when I stand back and watch. People still don’t wash their hands…even in post pandemic year 2023. Here we go…handwashing is one of the simplest and most effective measures you can take to reduce transmission of germs. Will it prevent everything? No, but it is very simple and should be a routine task we all do multiple times a day, every day. Even with the little ones. Even with your winter chapped dry hands. It is recommended to wash your hands with clean (warm or cold) water and apply soap. Any soap will do the trick and the intent is to wash the germs off of your hands and down the sink. The antibacterial soaps have shown not to make a big difference and some ingredients can actually be harmful. Scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. For the little kids, they even make a light up timer that can be kept by the sink to ensure they are washing long enough. Alternately, you can have kids sing “Happy Birthday” or the alphabet twice. Rinse and then dry with a clean towel. When soap and running water are not available, it is recommended to use an alcohol based sanitizer or sanitizer wipe with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Let’s remember to cover our coughs and sneezes and then wash our hands after. Stay home if you are sick. This includes diarrhea and/or vomiting. I know everyone is tired of hearing this after COVID-19, but some of these very basic things can keep a harsh winter like this one at bay, especially with healthcare systems stressed and the pharmaceutical industry seriously lagging behind the demand.
Stay healthy everyone.
Maria H. Drzaszcz, a Hammonton resident, is a registered nurse with 14 years critical care experience and is the proud mom of three young children.