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New Laws: EpiPens To Be Required At California Schools

J. David Ake / AP

Examples of epinephrine pens that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend that schools stock to combat food allergies are photographed in the Washington Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013.

J. David Ake / AP

A California law takes effect January 1st that could expand the use of emergency treatment for kids who have allergic reactions in school.

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.

“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,” TeSelle says. 

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.

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

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

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

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.