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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

OCR story about my support for the new CA stock Epi Pen law for all students needing epi pens to have access to it.

(Didn't write it, but sure was quoted.  A subject near and dear to my heart.)

Orange County schools are gearing up to supply the epinephrine auto-injectors used to treat anaphylaxis.

BY DEEPA BHARATH / STAFF WRITER 


Juliet Larsen was only 15 months old when she took one bite of peanut butter. In less than two minutes, her heart stopped beating.

“We took her to the hospital,” Louise Larsen, her mother, said about that day in 1997. “We almost lost our daughter.”

Louise Larsen has been one of the most vocal advocates on social media and through her blog, parentsofkidswithaseverepeanutallergy.blogspot.com, to make EpiPens mandatory in public schools. The devices are essentially auto-injectors that use epinephrine to quickly treat anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to allergens such as food, drugs or insect bites that cause the throat and airways to swell and become blocked.

A law requiring public schools to stock epinephrine auto-injectors and train personnel to administer them to students will go into effect Jan. 1. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 million children under age 18, or four of every 100 children in the United States, had food allergies of some type in 2007. In the decade ending in 2007, the prevalence of food allergies in that age group had increased by about 18 percent.

Juliet Larsen, now 18, is a senior at Los Alamitos High School and a runway model. But her mother says other children who’ve suffered the type of severe reaction her daughter experienced nearly 17 years ago have not been as fortunate.

“This law mandating EpiPens in schools has been a long time coming,” said Louise Larsen, who in 2007 started the Facebook group Parents of Kids with a Severe Peanut Allergy, which has 7,452 members and even more followers.

Under current state law, schools may stock and administer epinephrine. But it isoptional, and many districts choose not to participate due to the cost. Since epinephrine is a prescription drug, parents of children with known food allergies can designate the medication for their child in the school nurse’s office, should an emergency situation arise.

However, Larsen says, she knows of many parents who don’t.

“They refuse to get an EpiPen because they mentally don’t want to go there,” she said. “They come up with the excuse that their child has not experienced severe reactions so far. But, the thing is, allergic reactions are fickle and they are unpredictable. You never know when they are going to show up. That’s what makes EpiPens lifesavers.”



Orange County schools are gearing up to stock the EpiPens to meet the new law’s requirements, said Pamela Kahn, health and wellness coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education. Based on self-reporting by schools in the school year 2013-2014, 4,758 prescriptions were written for children with known anaphylactic issues. That’s out of 500,000 pupils.

“We understand that just because children don’t have prescriptions, it doesn’t mean they are not allergic,” she said.

Under current law, schools cannot use EpiPens designated for other children even in extreme emergencies.

Under the new law, Kahn said, each public school will have two two-packs of EpiPens. Elementary schools will have both junior and adult versions to accommodate varying sizes and physiques, she said.

Certain staff members will also be trained to administer the drug, Kahn said.

“This is not a drug that can be administered willy-nilly,” she said. “Credentialed school nurses will do the training and it will be done on an annual basis.”

Also, the drug will be restocked within two weeks of use, as required by the law, Kahn said.

While the law will be mandatory for public schools, it will remain optional for private schools.

An important part of the training is to call 911 as soon as the epinephrine is administered, said Riva Apodaca, the School Nurse Department chairwoman at Garden Grove Unified School District, the largest district in the county.

Apodaca said her district has 48,284 students, with 344 EpiPens in schools. So far, the district has documented 1,473 cases of food allergy reactions and 136 bee sting reactions this school year. There are also reactions to latex, cold or even exercise. On average, Apodaca says, the district’s schools use EpiPens 10 to 20 times a year.

“I’m very happy that the law has passed,” she said. “This will be another layer of security.”

The EpiPens will cost each school about $300 for a set of four, Apodaca said.

A common question Apodaca gets is what happens if a child is mistakenly given a dose of epinephrine.

“If you give it by mistake, nothing will happen except for the heartbeat going up a little,” she said. “Not having them at hand is a lot more dangerous and potentially fatal.”

Contact the writer: 714-796-7909 or dbharath@ocregister.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

Role Model: Allergic Living Magazine, Dec. 2014 Edition. Re: Juliet Larsen

Allergic Living Magazine, Page 44 & 45 
December 2014 Edition

Role Model, featuring Juliet Larsen
By Christine Peddie





Reporter: Christine Peddie at christine@allergicliving.com 
Senior editor, Gwen Smith, at gwen@allergicliving.com. 
If this article made a difference to you, do share your thoughts with these two from Allergic Living Magazine as they were the ones thoughtful enough to share our story with their readers!  -- Thank you!  -- Louise Larsen