Stock Our Schools With Epinephrine
Food allergies are on the rise and are not going away any time soon. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that food allergy prevalence increased from 3.4% in 1997–1999 to 5.1% in 2009–2011. Food allergies are not the only thing that can trigger anaphylaxis. Other common triggers also include insect bites or stings, latex and medication. In September 2013, a third grader's life was saved after being stung by a wasp on recess. The child didn't know that he was allergic and thankfully the school stocked auto-injectors for all students suffering a severe allergic reaction. I could list great stories like this across the country and it is because they had epinephrine available.
If a person is having an anaphylaxis reaction, unfortunately giving Benadryl and waiting for medical attention isn't an option. When a person is suffering a severe allergic reaction, every second counts. They must get epinephrine immediately and then seek proper medical attention. If you wait to give epinephrine then there is a chance of losing a life. Unfortunately, it has happened and will continue to if there's not immediate access to this life saving medication.
Some people question whether schools can afford to stock schools with epinephrine auto-injectors. Mylan L.P., the distributor and marketer of EpiPen® has a great program for schools called Epipens4Schools, which is a program designed to allow qualified schools to obtain EpiPen Auto-Injectors at no-cost. I would be really surprised if more makers of other epinephrine auto-injectors didn't start their own programs for schools very soon. There really isn't any reason for not having this available in every school. Financial reasons shouldn't be a deciding factor. Do we really need another innocent child to die at school because they didn't have access to epinephrine? .
My child has life threatening food allergies and will always have two auto-injectors with him at all times, but the CDC reports that 25% of anaphylaxis reactions in schools occur among students without a previous food allergy diagnosis. So these children may have always had these allergies and didn't know or they just develop them out of nowhere. And for these kids an auto-injector wouldn't be available. Our kids spend over eight hours a day at school and they should be safe and protected. A recent report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) shows that anaphylaxis is more common than we think. The report showed that anaphylaxis occurs in nearly 1-in-50 Americans.
I don't know the ins and outs of the entire legislation process, but I am a mother of a child with a food allergy and I know how important it is for every child to have access to epinephrine. I have read too many tragic stories and I have met parents that have lost a child. We have life saving medicine that can prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening and we must do everything we can to keep all of the children out there safe.
If you haven't contacted your representative in your area then please do so. One person can make a difference and there are so many resources out there that make this process so easy for you.
To see how you can help, please check out the following resources: