By Thom Stevens
Common-sense legislation took one giant step toward practical application on Dec. 11 when the West Virginia Board of Education adopted rules to allow schools across our state to voluntarily store and administer epinephrine auto-injectors.
These devices can now be used by principals, teachers, school nurses and other personnel, trained and designated by individual schools, to combat the growing rate of life-threatening allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, among our children -- buying them precious time until emergency medical services responders arrive to administer further lifesaving care. Parents are notified immediately.
The board's action on guidelines developed by the state Department of Education's Office of Healthy Schools, in consultation with the state's chief health officer, was the result of this year's passage of HB 2729, which unanimously sailed through Health, Education and Judiciary committees and both houses of the Legislature before earning the signature of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
The measure received strong endorsements from the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians, the West Virginia State Medical Association and the West Virginia Board of Medicine.
The epinephrine auto-injectors will be provided to all public, private and parochial schools free of charge by a Mylan, Inc. subsidiary, Mylan Specialty, which markets and distributes one of several epinephrine auto-injectors in the U.S.
The unanimous adoption of the state board of education's epinephrine auto-injector program gives local boards across West Virginia the option for implementation. It is our hope that county boards take action quickly and unanimously.
As an added benefit of the new law, West Virginia now qualifies automatically for preferred status in seeking future grant funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the federal School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act signed by the President in mid-November.
Today, an estimated one out of 13 children in the U.S. has a food allergy. In addition: