Winnipeg school board will explore EpiPen cabinets for kids with allergies – Manitoba

The chair of the Winnipeg School Division says it will move ahead with discussions to have EpiPens on hand at every school in the event a student has a life-threatening allergic reaction.

On Monday night, three parents of children with lethal allergies provided an in-depth presentation to school trustees about why they believe backup EpiPens are needed in schools.

“Every day that I drop my six-year-old daughter off at school, I wonder if today is going to be the day she has a severe allergic reaction,” Orla Nazarko told the trustees. “I also wonder if that EpiPen that she puts on in a little fanny pack around her waist every morning is actually going to be there for her when she needs it.”

EpiPens are disposable needles used to administer epinephrine (adrenaline) to someone suffering an anaphylactic allergic reaction.

Nazarko said she worries her daughter may take it off to play or hide it away because she might be embarrassed about having a peanut allergy.

“When kids don’t have their EpiPens tragedies happen,” Nazarko said, pointing to the deaths of two American students, Katelyn Carlson and Ammaria Johnson, who had fatal anaphylactic reactions at school.

Orla Nazarko, a mother of two, presents a proposal to the Winnipeg School Division to make EpiPens available in school. (CBC)

Nazarko first raised the idea of making EpiPens available at schools in May.

She and the other two other parents want all of the division’s 78 schools to have cabinets to hold emergency EpiPens.

“I thought it was really well received,” Nazarko said after the meeting. “I thought the trustees had some great questions. They seemed really interested in the idea.”

Provincial policy change needed

The model has been adopted in a number of schools in Atlantic Canada and the United States, she said.

The cabinets cost $225 and hold two EpiPens — one for children and one for adults. The pair of EpiPens would cost $220 annually, because they expire, the group said.

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