The new EpiPen4Schools program, sponsored by Mylan Laboratories Inc., allows every school to have up to four EpiPens at no cost.
The policy also would allow teachers, secretaries and other aides to receive training from nurses about how to inject the EpiPen and identify symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Before, teachers could step in to administer the injections to diagnosed students, but had not been properly trained, King said.
One in 13 children under the age of 18 has food allergies, and a significant portion of severe allergic reactions that occur at school are among students with no prior allergy diagnosis, according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE.)
King said those numbers are only growing.
"Allergies have definitely increased over the years. ... Luckily, we've been blessed in the sense that we're taking a more proactive stance," she said. "Education is the key with any allergy. We don't want to create an environment that is allergen-free because we know that's not going to happen in the real world. ... So we want to create allergy awareness."
While the policy is new for the state, it's something school nurses have been pushing for years, King said.
Nurses, like King, have simple advice: "Don't hesitate."
"I think that there's hesitation ... but epinephrine is more of a benefit than anything. Give the EpiPen immediately because you just never know," she said. "In four minutes, you could have brain damage and airway obstruction ... and your body ends up closing down and eventually you die."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.