Illinois’ two U.S. senators are congratulating themselves for passing a measure that encourages schools to supply the antidote for food allergies.
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act gives money to states that require schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine injectors, in case students experience an anaphylactic reaction.
“Congress finally got something right, and did something that literally will help families all across America,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said at a news conference Sunday with advocates of the measure at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
Durbin and U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) pushed the bill through Congress. It awaits action by the president.
Dr. Jacqueline Progracic, the head of allergy and immunology at Lurie Children’s Hospital, says many kids may need this. “Food allergy is a very common problem among children. One in 13 kids has food allergy, and that equals two students in every classroom. That’s astounding,” she said.
The injectors cost about $12 each. Students with known allergies often carry their own and can inject themselves, but sometimes students do not know they have an allergy, and the occasionally fatal reaction can be stopped with a timely injection, either by the school nurse or by other trained and authorized personnel.
Illinois law allows schools to supply the epinephrine injectors, but doesn’t require it.