Are you a mom, dad, teacher, or school nurse who worries about being prepared for an allergy emergency? On top of already managing daily kiddo responsibilities such as teaching kids, nurturing them, and making sure they’re safe, the last thing you want to worry about is your school not being prepared for a severe allergic reaction. The good news is that schools can now get stock epinephrine to treat a severe allergic reaction. Best of all? It's free! That's right – one program has made this essential medicine available for schools for no cost. Read on to learn more about stock epinephrine for schools and how your school can participate!
What is Stock Epinephrine and why is it important for schools to have access to it
Parents send their kiddos to school each day with the expectation that they will be safe and nurtured. But what happens when a student experiences a severe allergic reaction? Especially if a student wasn't previously diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy? This is where stock epinephrine comes into play. Let's break down what stock epinephrine is.
What is epinephrine?
Epinephrine is the medication that treats anaphylaxis. Our bodies already make epinephrine, but during a severe allergic reaction, we need extra epinephrine to stop the reaction. Epinephrine is available in devices called auto-injectors, like an EpiPen. This epinephrine is pre-measured to be the correct dose for a person's weight class.
What is “stock” epinephrine?
“Stock” epinephrine is epinephrine prescribed to an entity, such as a school, to be used in case of an allergy emergency. This epinephrine is typically prescribed in the form of an auto-injector, not vial-and-syringe because auto-injectors are safer due to less possible user error. States set their own stock epinephrine laws. They regulate what and how entities may obtain and manage stock epinephrine. They also include indemnification language, essentially a good Samaritan law for using the medication.
Having easy access to stock epinephrine in schools can save lives while also providing peace of mind for parents, teachers, and staff. Given 5-10% of kids have food allergies but only half of those actually have epinephrine auto-injectors at school, it's critical that school administrators ensure that epinephrine is readily available for any student – or staff member – who may need it. Everyone deserves to feel safe at school, and access to stock epinephrine helps make that a reality.
Check out this workgroup report I co-authored for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. It's on the importance of schools having stock epi.
How To Obtain Stock Epinephrine for Your School or District
Ensuring the safety of students is a top priority for any school or district. When it comes to severe allergic reactions, having access to stock epinephrine can make all the difference. But how does a school go about obtaining it?
Step 1: Visit CodeAna.org to check out its free EpiReady program.
Code Ana is a non-profit program that equips schools for medical emergencies like anaphylaxis. The EpiReady program provides an easy roadmap for schools to obtain stock epinephrine. These steps include:
- Educate staff on anaphylaxis
- Educate students on anaphylaxis
- Train the schools medical response team on stock epinephrine
- Obtain stock epinephrine
Code Ana has a great map that helps you easily find and review your state's epinephrine laws. Unless you're in Hawaii, your school can have stock epinephrine in some capacity. Code Ana can even help you find a prescriber licensed to prescribe medication in your state, and most allergists will prescribe it to their patients' schools!
Step 2. Talk with your school's administration.
When advocating for a new emergency medication, it's best to start at the top, such a with the school's principal or even school board. Ask to meet for 20 minutes to discuss the need for the school to have stock epinephrine. Come equipped with stats and facts:
- ~8% of kiddos have food allergies, and ~10% of adults have food allergies.
- ~10% of kiddos with food allergies have a reaction at school.
- ~24% of kids who have a severe allergic reaction needing epinephrine at school are kiddos who were not previously known to have a life-threatening allergy.
- Epinephrine treats anaphylaxis and is safely administered from an auto-injector.
- Stock epinephrine is epinephrine prescribed to a school to be used in case of an allergy emergency and is federally encouraged and protected.
- Schools can receive free stock epinephrine auto-injectors from EpiPen4Schools, and Code Ana is a non-profit that can guide them through the process through its EpiReady program – also free!
Ask the school administrator who s/he'd like to be the school's champion on this – a school nurse or health teacher or coach? Try to meet that person immediately after your meeting with leadership or include that request to connect in your follow-up thank you/recap email to the school administrator with whom you met.
Step 3. Connect with the school's stock epinephrine champion.
You are your child's strongest advocate. And especially when it comes to food allergy, some parents are more informed than others and are better positioned to advocate for other children with food allergies. Because you have an important voice, don't let your meeting with administration be the end of the stock epinephrine conversation.
- Connect with the school's leadership-appointed epinephrine champion.
- Connect the champion with Code Ana to get the school participating in EpiReady.
- Offer your allergist to prescribe the stock epinephrine (pending your allergist has agreed, of course!).
Be that positive, encouraging voice to the school during this important time!
How to spread this message
Spreading the word about something you're passionate about can be daunting, but it's totally worth it, especially when it can save lives. One of the best ways to share with others about stock epinephrine for schools is by starting small. Talk to your friends, family, and coworkers about stock epinephrine and that schools can get it for free. Share with them this blog post. It's amazing how quickly word of mouth can spread, and you never know who will hear this message then help their school get stock epinephrine which then saves a life. Another great way to spread the word is through social media. Don't be afraid to reach out to people or organizations that may be interested in supporting stock epinephrine in schools. Remember, teamwork makes the dream work!
Let's do this!
In conclusion, stock epinephrine is imperative for schools to to keep students and staff safe during allergy emergencies. Thankfully this life-saving medication comes at no cost to the school thanks to EpiPen4Schools. Parents of kiddos with food allergies should encourage their schools and districts to obtain stock epinephrine and connect schools with Code Ana to help schools navigate the acquisition of stock epinephrine. Furthermore, spreading the word about stock epinephrine will help ensure maximum safety for every child and adult on school grounds. So please remember: when it comes to preventing a tragedy from a food allergy, there's nothing more important than being prepared ahead of time. Share this blog with other food allergy parents and school staff today!
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A note from Dr. Hoyt
I talked about a non-profit…
Pam and I volunteer with the non-profit The Teal Schoolhouse. Its primary program is Code Ana. Code Ana equips schools for medical emergencies like anaphylaxis.
Code Ana’s Online Epinephrine Training Program helps support that goal. Through this program, you will educate yourself while you support this important mission!
A medical emergency response plan is important for everyone at any school. Code Ana's program Med-E Ready is a comprehensive approach to school-focused medical preparedness. This program guides schools through the process of creating a medical emergency response plan. A response team is also developed! This is one of the most important components of a school's food allergy policy!
Does your kiddo’s school have Code Ana?
You've just read my post “Stock EpiPens for Schools… for FREE!” Remember, I'm an allergist, but I'm not your allergist, so talk with your allergist about what you've just learned! -Dr. Hoyt