August 19th, 2015

Anaphylaxis Preparedness: Making the Classroom Safe for the 300,000 Canadian Children With Allergies

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Teachers, parents and caregivers still need broadened awareness of emergent anaphylactic treatment required for school-age children with severe allergies, say pharmacists.

Understanding how to administer epinephrine in an emergency is just as important as other lifesaving skills like CPR or the Heimlich maneuver,” says London Drugs Pharmacist, Jason Chan-Remillard. “While awareness in schools about allergies has grown in recent years, there is a lag in understanding when it comes to emergent anaphylactic treatment.”

For those students with severe allergies, school can be a dangerous place. Teachers, parents and caregivers must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to initiate treatment.

“Parents must work with teachers and caregivers at the start of each school year to create an action plan,” says Chan-Remillard.

An action plan includes explaining the child’s allergy triggers, what to do in case of reaction, where they have access to epinephrine and how to administer emergent anaphylactic treatment. Anaphylaxis Canada offers a Back to School Checklist for parents and students to help safeguard their health for the new school year.

“It’s especially important for lunchroom personnel to be aware of children’s health status. Often times, that requires the parents to speak with them directly about how to administer medication, including epinephrine auto-injectors, in case of emergency,” adds Chan-Remillard.

Two years ago, a new ‘talking’ epinephrine auto-injector was launched in Canada to help caregivers correctly use the auto-injector. The Allerject™ comes equipped with automated voice instructions (in either English or French) which will guide them step-by-step through the injection process in the event of emergency anaphylaxis.

“Prescriptions are not required for Allerject or EpiPen; however, some insurance plans cover them if the patient has a prescription. It is also important to note that all epinephrine auto-injector expiry dates vary by manufacturer. Back to school is an important time to check dates and update prescriptions.”

Expired medications should not be thrown away as they can pose a threat to the environment. Expired autoinjectors such as EpiPens and Allerjects can be brought to any London Drugs pharmacy for proper disposal.

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