Did you know epinephrine is the only life-saving medicine for someone having an anaphylactic reaction? Did you know that, according to FARE, 20-25 percent of kids administered epinephrine at school had an unknown allergy? Lastly, did you know that there's a program that will provide FREE epinephrine to schools in the U.S. to stock in cases of emergencies?
A few years ago, I would have said "No" to those last two questions.
How did I find out about this program that provides free epinephrine to schools? By pure happenstance. You would think something as important as stocking epinephrine would be more widely known, but from a recent poll I asked on Instagram, that's not the case. In fact, 99% of the people who responded had no idea about it.
How I Found Out
Before I decided on writing a children's book about food allergies, I was trying to figure out other ways to advocate and education within the community. At one point in 2019, I was set on starting a non-profit. That's when I started scouring the internet for anything and everything I could find on food allergy education. Somehow, I ended up on manufacturer's website of the EpiPen - this one. I can't tell you what exactly I was looking for, but as I scrolled, I found a small link at the bottom of the page titled "EPIPENS4SCHOOLS".
My curiosity was peaked.
Upon clicking on this, I found out that this program will provide up to four EpiPen/EpiPen Jr. injectors per school, per calendar year for FREE! Yes, you read that right. For FREE!
I called their 800 number because first, I needed to know if this was true. And second, I needed to know how to do it.
While it may seem obvious why this is important for those with diagnosed food allergies, I want to highlight some other reasons stocking epinephrine is important overall. Some of these examples were given to me by our school nurse (which only made me want to stock it even faster!):
Some children in school have a diagnosed food allergy, but don't have a prescribed epinephrine injector at school.
Some children may only have one and carry it back and forth between home and school. The concern here is that they could forget it at home, someone may not know where it is (locker, backpack, etc.) as well as the importance of always having two!
As stated above, according to FARE, 20-25 percent of epinephrine administered at school has been to children without a known allergy. You just never know.
In addition to food allergies, insect venom (bee, wasp, or ant stings) can also cause a severe reaction.
Just as we have AEDs in schools, I felt the importance of stock epinephrine was a no-brainer.
After chatting with the amazing representative for the program to find out the details, I was astonished to find out that the process to acquire free injectors was pretty simple. In fact, only three steps:
Online profile completed for school
Certification form filled out
Either a prescription by a licensed physician/allergist or standing orders completed
This all seemed simple enough. What I knew I needed to do was get the right people together at the school/district level to get it implemented and make sure they knew WHY it was important.
To learn how I went about getting epinephrine stocked in all of our schools in the district, you can download the following PDF with my step-by-step process or watch the video!
A couple of things I want to point out about the program.
At this point, I believe this is only for those in the United States.
This is for elementary, middle, and high schools. I'm not sure if this would pertain to preschools/daycares.
I would love to see stock epinephrine in ALL schools.
Even if you don't have a child in school or don't have a child with food/severe allergies, I still encourage you to find out if your local school district carries stock epinephrine. If not, I highly recommend and encourage you to pursue implementing this program for the safety of students, and even staff, in your district. You could save a life and all it takes is a little time and coordination.
And I'm happy to help if anyone has any questions!