Legislation to require all schools in New Jersey to maintain a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors and permit trained personnel to administer the allergy medication in an emergency was signed into law on Thursday.
The new law (A-304), sponsored by Assemblywoman Marlene Caride, amends statute to provide school nurses and other trained designees with immunity from liability for administering the life-saving drug to students without parental consent or a prescription.
“Just having an EpiPen on hand can be the difference between a kid spending recess on the playground and spending it in the emergency room,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “If a child has his or her first allergic reaction at school and seconds count, it’s critical that the school nurse can step in and help without hesitation.”
Epinephrine is used in emergencies to treat severe allergic reactions to insect stings/bites, foods, drugs or other substances. The hormone acts quickly to improve breathing, stimulate the heart, reverse hives and reduce swelling of the face, lips and throat.
“With food allergies among children on the rise, many schools are removing certain products from their menus to limit the risk to children who are allergic,” added Caride. “Having epinephrine ready for administration in case of an emergency is another way schools can protect these students.”
The General Assembly approved the legislation 68-0 in December; it passed the Senate, 37-0.