Nurses Push To Have More Allergy Pens In Every School - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Nurses Push To Have More Allergy Pens In Every School

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

The percentage of food allergies has increased almost 20 percent in the last decade.

In a typical classroom, the odds are that at least one or two children will have a serious allergy.

A device called an epinephrine autoinjector is a live saver and staple for kids with allergies. Pull the top of the device, jab it into the thigh of the person experiencing the allergic reaction, and in seconds, the device delivers a prescription dose of epinephrine, which is used to treat anaphylactic shock.

The question is: who should be able to have and use them?

A prescription is required to obtain an allergy pen, but what about children who don't have prescriptions, and don't yet know that they have a food allergy?

"We don't want to have to watch them die at school," said Kate King, president of the Ohio Association of School Nurses.

The association desperately wants more allergy pens in schools to treat anaphylactic shock in kids with allergies.

"I have the medicine that can save them. But it's illegal for me to give it to them," said King.

School nurses around the state are pushing for a law that would allow for more allergy pens. The goal is to have one in every school building, and training for those who would administer them.

Thirteen states have already passed laws to help ease the regulations around the use of the allergy pens in schools.

The Ohio Association of School Nurses, and the group Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), are helping to draft the bill and expect it to be introduced soon. But it could come down to funding.

"You have to have a terminal distributor's license from the board of pharmacy to stock that epinephrine. That costs $100 per year, per building, not per district. Per building," King said.

As food allergies grow in this country, experts think the issue will only get worse, saying timing is critical.

"If a child has a reaction and they don't have that, then we have to call emergency medical services and wait for them to come, and if they stop breathing, we are just waiting. You've wasted time," King said. "We have wasted time and they could die."

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