Epinephrine Policy for Virginia Schools Signed into Law

By Brad Fulton – Capital News Service

Gov. Bob McDonnell signed two bills Thursday requiring schools to stock and administer epinephrine, a drug that could save students having a severe allergic reaction.

McDonnell signed House Bill 1107, sponsored by Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason, a Republican from Potomac Falls, and Senate Bill 656, introduced by Sen. Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Richmond.

Laura Pendleton; Governor McDonnell - Photo Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photographer

The measures require schools to adopt plans to have epinephrine available for emergencies. Only a school nurse or other trained school employee could administer the drug.

The state budget passed last week allocated $200,000 to public schools to buy epinephrine injectors, commonly called EpiPens.

The legislation was introduced in January after 7-year-old Amarria Johnson, a student at Hopkins Elementary School in Chesterfield County, went into cardiac arrest from a peanut allergy and died.

“This legislation and the money in the recently passed budget will help prevent another tragedy like Amarria Johnson’s from occurring in a public school in the commonwealth,” McDonnell said. “Having a plan in place and access to epinephrine in schools, where children spend half their day, is critical.”

Amarria’s mother, Laura Pendleton, attended the bill signing ceremony. Also present were state legislators, pediatricians and representatives of the Food Allergy Network.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among school-aged children increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007. Additionally, a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that nearly 25 percent of allergic reactions in schools occur in children who were previously undiagnosed.

State education officials plan to draft guidelines for the possession and administration of epinephrine by July 1. Local school boards must implement their policies beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.


  1. ELizabeth says:

    Great, more money for something people should supply themselves.

    • Often times people do not even know they are allergic to Bees/wasps, or many other items that can be deadly if not treated immediately.

      Ambulances carry the drugs, but may be several minutes away.

      I think it is a great idea to have the meds available and able to be administered within moments, and will certainly be worth the funds.

  2. Roscoe Evans says:

    You’re so right, Elizabeth.. There’s nothing in the Constitution about peanut allergies, or even peanuts for that matter.

    Better to let a child die than waste money, right?

    Then, the teacher could use the child’s body for show and tell.

    $200,000.00 to stock every school in Virginia? Why, a child’s life could not be worth that, could it?

  3. Eugene Krabbs says:

    Epinephrine auto injectors should be in all schools period. It WILL save lives. Anyone who doesn’t think that is wrong. What’s next, you don’t want paramedics with Oxygen?

  4. Elizabeth says:

    No, of course I think it is a good idea. I also think students should come with pens and paper, but often the school has to supply those because parents don’t send them with the kids. Teachers often shell out their own money to buy supplies for students. Epi Pens are as important to the nurse as band aids, but let’s remember this when we complain about spending money. Sometimes we need to spend to help kids. People often forget this when they hear “higher taxes”.

    • benefitofthedoubt says:

      Dear Parents- This year when you send your child to school, please supply the following: pens, paper, text books, computers, toilet paper, light bulbs, and epi-pens.

      No thanks. I’d rather save the $200k elsewhere. Last time I checked it’s the Feds taking the bulk of my tax money. I’m for paying into my state…especially education. Maybe if we took this attitude, teachers wouldn’t have to provide their own supplies.

      And if you read the article closely, you will see the AAP states that 25% of allergic reactions in schools were previously undiagnosed. So with your logic, too bad for those unlucky 25%.

  5. God forbid it ever happen,,, But who assumes the liability /makes a decision when and when not to use these pens. If a child were to die and the pen had or had not been used. Does that open a door for a law suit against the school system and an individule?

    • Fly on the wall says:

      I’m guessing there are folks, in each building, who are trained on these things. People like the school nurse, the office secretaries, perhaps even a few teachers.

  6. My child has an EpiPen and believe me, the decision to use one is pretty idiot-proof. There are trained staff in each school building. Oh, and don’t worry Elizabeth. I purchase the ones for my child. I also carry one in my purse and would be more than happy to use it on anyone who may need it since I value life. Wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a thing! Hey, I guess we shouldn’t spend any money on those stupid defibrillators everyone is having to put in. If people think they will need one they should just carry it around with them. I see a whole new healthcare plan here!

  7. hhmmm... says:

    Seriously?! You guys are actually arguing about this? Unreal. Yes it costs money but with kids having so many allergies nowadays it’s best to have it. I have a child in the system (with no allergies), I don’t mind paying taxes for that and no I really don’t have the money to do so. Oh well. I’d rather do that then put a child in harms way.