Back-to-School: Important Notes Regarding Auto-Injectors

As a parent of a child with food allergies, you know that back-to-school means replacing those epinephrine auto-injectors with a fresh set, an expensive proposition especially if you don’t have prescription coverage.

At this writing, consumers have the largest selection of epinephrine auto-injectors to choose from as their respective manufacturers are well aware. Some are providing great incentives worth hundreds of dollars to retain or gain market share, while the introduction of a generic alternative may reshape the entire industry.

As with everything else related to food allergies, nothing is simple – so please heed the following warning:

The various brands of auto-injectors work differently and have different markings and instructions from each other. When you drop off your prescription to be filled, have a discussion with your pharmacist to make sure you will be receiving the brand you expect and know how to operate.

If you are switching brands or there is a possibility that your prescription may be substituted with a generic, be sure to have the pharmacist show you how to operate the new auto-injector and practice with the trainer in the presence of the pharmacist until you feel confident.

Once you have the auto-injectors in hand and have practiced with the trainer, it’s time to make the rounds and provide a refresher course to everyone that will be responsible for your child. Start with your child him/herself; discuss the rules regarding accepting and eating foods outside of the house, review the warning signs of anaphylaxis, and show her how to operate the trainer and have her practice on herself. If she is allowed to self-carry, check to make sure the carrier is still appropriate for your child’s age and discuss where, when and how she will carry her injector.

Warning!When you are satisfied your child is comfortable with the instructions, train family, friends, teachers, school nurse, lunch aides, coaches, troop leaders, clergy… everyone who will be watching out for your child. Make sure:

  • They understand anaphylaxis is a real possibility and can be fatal;
  • They know the symptoms of anaphylaxis;
  • They understand your child’s emergency action plan;
  • They understand that they should listen to and trust your child for clues that something is wrong;
  • They understand that they should not be afraid to administer epinephrine immediately if they suspect anaphylaxis;
  • They are taking the instruction seriously.

Here is a quick summary of the major epinephrine auto-injector options currently available:

A final reminder: Your child and child’s caretakers should have access to two epinephrine auto-injectors at all times! Click here for a set of printable flyers from our “Take 2” Campaign and display them at home and school.

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