SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – A bill to prevent allergic reactions in schools has been sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for signature. Lawmakers in both houses unanimously approved the measure, which would allow school nurses to administer epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, to students who go into anaphylactic shock.
The bill would allow schools to have a supply of EpiPens and would allow school nurses to administer the EpiPens to any student believed to be going into anaphylactic shock, whether or not that student’s medical plan on file indicates an allergy diagnosis.
It also would allow schools to keep EpiPens for students who are authorized to self-administer the shots.
The measure is a personal one for bill sponsor Rep. Chris Nybo, R-Lombard.
“This is a critical measure that allows our schools to be proactive in an instance that could mean life or death of a student,” Nybo said in a statement. “Many children, including my own, suffer from severe food allergies and we must do everything in our power to protect students with known and unknown allergies.”
State Senate sponsor Jeffrey Schoenberg, D-Evanston, said the bill could be a matter of life or death for some students.
“Epinephrine can save a child’s life by opening their airways until emergency personnel arrive,” Schoenberg said in a statement. “If a student forgets their own EpiPen, the time delay while awaiting an ambulance can be fatal. Having this medication on hand so a school nurse could administer it could make a life-saving difference.”
Supporters claim the bill is needed due to the increasing number of food allergies diagnosed in children. According to the “Journal of Pediatrics,” one in four cases of life-threatening childhood anaphylaxis occurs in children who were not previously diagnosed with a food or other severe allergy.
The Journal found that 25 percent of first reactions among children allergic to peanuts or tree nuts occurred while they were in a school setting, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.