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New State Law Allows Schools To Stock Emergency Allergy Medicine

(Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois school children with potentially fatal allergies will be able to get help faster thanks to a new state law.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports, the law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn allows schools to stock and use shots to help children having severe allergic reactions.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Grzanich reports

The law goes into effect immediately and lets schools administer the allergy shot without fear of liability, by giving them an epinephrine injection.

“When a child suffers a severe allergic reaction, every second counts,” Quinn said in a news release Monday. “With food allergies on the rise, we take action to help children with dangerous allergies. This law allows our schools to be prepared and for school nurses to take the immediate action that could save a child’s life.”

Quinn’s office points out that a growing number of American children are being diagnosed with food allergies. A total of 1 in 13 children now suffer from food allergies, and nearly 40 percent have a severe reaction, the governor’s office said.

Peanuts are the most common allergen, followed by milk and shellfish, the governor’s office said.

Under state law before the new bill, schoolchildren with severe allergies can carry their own epi-pens for epinephrine injections, and may allow school staff to administer the injections in an emergency. But schools were not allowed to stock epi-pens themselves.

Quinn signed the law at the Thomas A. Edison Regional Gifted Center, 4929 N. Sawyer Ave., where a 13-year-old girl died last year after having a severe allergic reaction to food.

Katelyn Carlson, 13, died after eating peanuts inside food her seventh grade teacher ordered from Chinese Inn Restaurant for a Dec. 17, 2010, class holiday party.