Life saving EpiPens coming to all Mich. schools

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. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Millions of Americans, including children, suffer from severe food allergies or insect stings. Some even die from those allergies.

Deaths from Anaphylaxis, the potentially life-threatening reaction to an allergen, can potentially be prevented from a shot from an EpiPen.

In 2012, 7-year-old Ammaria Johnson died after suffering an allergic reaction from peanuts while at her school in Virginia.

The school wasn’t required to and didn’t have an EpiPen on hand. Doctors later said an EpiPen would have likely saved her life.

After that incident, states around the country started work on legislation that would require schools to have EpiPens on hand and staff trained to administer the medicine.

Michigan’s law was crafted by State Representative Lisa Posthumus Lyons, (R-Alto).

“I decided to do this bill because I learned that over 25 percent of anaphylactic reactions come from people who didn’t even know they had any allergies,” Rep. Posthumus Lyons said.

On Tuesday, every school in Michigan will be required to have two EpiPens on hand and at least two staff members trained on how to use them.

“I want to prevent a tragedy before that would even happen here. When it comes to allergies, minutes matter and our schools are now going to be equipped with epinephrin injections so that we can deal with these situations if an emergency arises,” Rep. Posthumus Lyons said.

EpiPens can costs families as much as $350 dollars for a pack of two. Rep. Posthumus Lyons said schools won’t have to pay for the EpiPens because they are available free through a program, offered by Mylan Specialty the maker and distributor of EpiPen, called EpiPen4Schools.

Like Johnson, Roxanne Meyers has a 14-year-old son who has a potentially life-threatening allergy to peanuts.

He will be a freshman this year in Rockford.

“Its definitely a scary thing. And its worth so much to have a school system and teachers that know how to handle situations like that,” Meyers said.

She said every year before school she would meet with her son’s school, provide them with an EpiPen, and let them know about her sons allergy.

However, Meyers said not everyone knows of their allergies and now because of this law all kids will be protected from a potentially deadly allergic reaction.

“If you don’t have a child that has an allergy, there is always that fear of what if my child did develop an allergy. What if my child has never been stung by a bee before and I don’t know if they may be severely allergic? And just that fear that there wouldn’t be those tools at school to help your child if they needed it, now there is.”

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