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Surge in respiratory illnesses spark rush on fever-reducing meds

MIAMI – Hospitalizations for flu and COVID-19 are increasing. Health officials are reiterating how important vaccination is to keep people from getting severely sick.

"Hospitalizations for flu continue to be the highest we have seen at this time of year in a decade," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

It's been a brutal week for the Kao family of Irvine, California. Dad, Brendan, and kids, Emma and Henry, all came down with a nasty virus.

"It's been hectic. A lot of that has fallen to the shoulders of my wife. Myself and Henry spent about two days just in bed," Brendan Kao said.

This year's respiratory virus season has seen a perfect storm of RSV, Flu, and COVID-19 all circulating.

According to the CDC, for the flu so far, about 8.7 million people have been ill, 78,000 hospitalized, and 4,500 have died from the flu, including 14 children.

While there are signs of RSV is peaking in some parts of the country, COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing.

Health officials say vaccination is the best defense against flu and COVID-19 and it's not too late to get your shots.

"Both vaccines are very important in making it less likely to get it. And even more important, making it less likely that we'll get very sick if we do get the virus," said Dr. Dan Sullivan of the Cleveland Clinic.

The surge in respiratory illnesses had sparked a rush on fever-reducing medication, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

On their website, Tylenol says "while some products may be less readily available, we are not experiencing an overall shortage of Children's Tylenol."

The Kaos visited multiple stores and found empty shelves.

"We were rationing and deciding that the younger child who doesn't take ibuprofen very well, that we have to save the acetaminophen for him," Brendan Kao said.

The family eventually found medications online, is now on the mend, and hoping to stay well for the rest of the holiday season.

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