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Manar’s initiative to expand access to life-saving epi-pens in schools becomes law

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A new law designed to make Illinois’ schools safer for students and staff was signed by the governor this week. The most important part of the law, sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill), expanded access to life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors or epi-pens. Epi-pens are used to treat a person in anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction.

“More and more children are being diagnosed with food allergies, with peanuts, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat as the most common triggers,” Manar said. “Ensuring timely access to this life-saving medication can mean the difference between life and death for a child.”

The law allows trained school employees and volunteers to administer an epi-pen to anyone at the school. The law sets training requirements for school personnel, and with parental consent allows a student to carry and administer their own epi-pen as well as their asthma medication.

Studies show that 25 percent of first-time allergic reactions among children occur at school. Many schools in Illinois lack a full-time nurse on staff, raising concerns that the life-saving medicine may not be readily available in an emergency.

The new law also provides liability protection for school districts and employees when an epi-pen injection is administered. The law is effective August 1, 2014.