For parents of children with food allergies, having and auto-injector on hand is almost second nature. With severe food allergies the risk of anaphylactic shock after exposure to the offending food allergen makes having and EpiPen nearby and easily accessible a necessity. Schools are generally responsive to the needs of children with food allergies, but laws governing the handling of EpiPens and food allergies are different from state to state. On Thursday, VA Governor Bob McDonnell is set to sign a bill that would require Virginia school to carry auto-injectors and train staff on their use.
_Shortly after the death of a 7-year-old in VA in January, legislation was put forth that would require schools to stock auto injectors and train staffers on their use. Similar laws have been passed in Illinois and Georgia.
_In November, Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk introduced legislation that would provide incentives for schools across the nation to provide access to and stock auto-injectors in schools. While most states allows students to self-administer epinephrine, nearly twenty-five of all anaphylaxis cases in schools involve students with no prior history of food allergies. Laws like this and those passed at the state level aim to remedy that.
_Auto-injectors administer a measured dose of epinephrine, an effective countermeasure to anaphylactic shock. Most often auto injectors are associated with those who have severe food allergies, but they are effective for anyone suffering from a severe allergy that can cause anaphylaxis.
_While it often takes a tragedy before meaningful and lasting action is taken, this does not have to be the case. On a personal level, take control of potential life-threatening allergies and keep you local school informed. On a larger level, working with food and other allergy networks and advocacy groups (like those listed in our Allergy Resource section on this page) can not only spread awareness but ultimately influence legislation and enact minor but critical changes.