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EpiPens To Be Required At California Schools

Dec 23, 2014

Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California law takes effect January 1st that could expand the use of emergency treatment for kids who have allergic reactions in school. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento in the latest installment of our “new laws” series.

Mary Beth TeSelle never goes anywhere without an EpiPen, the anti-histamine auto-injector that can save a life during a potentially lethal allergic reaction. Her eight-year-old daughter has had a severe peanut allergy – since she was one year old:

TeSelle: “She ate a cracker with peanut butter on it, and about an hour later, she started screaming, pulling on her ears, inconsolable. I took her to the ER, and while we were there, she broke out in hives.”

Now, TeSelle’s daughter’s suburban Sacramento school keeps EpiPens handy in case of emergency. But not every California school does – and that’s where this new law comes in. It requires all schools to stock EpiPens. Before, the law simply allowed it. The law’s author, Republican Senator Bob Huff, says some kids have their first allergic reaction at school.

Huff: “It’s real important that they get medical attention within the first five minutes. Our medical response is not that fast.” 

TeSelle says she hopes the law will lead to more school employees getting trained to use EpiPens.

TeSelle: “It’s not just the kids who we know have allergies; it’s the kids who may have never been diagnosed before.” 

The law only allows medical personnel and trained volunteers to use EpiPens – and it does not force school employees who aren’t comfortable injecting students to do so.