Contact WestCAAN
Phone: 866.713.2224

Board of Directors

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Current Legislation

AB 559

SB 1912

California Codes

Case Studies


Sample School Board Policy

Murrieta Valley Unified School District - Anaphylaxis Treatment
Board Policy

Policy Number 5536 Managing life-threatening food allergies:

-Philosophical Statement

-Administrative Regulations


Life-threatening asthma and anaphylaxis in schools: a treatment model for school-based programs.

Health Brief: Epinephrine Administration in Schools -
Massachusetts Department of Public Health


[Background References]


West Coast Allergy and Asthma Network (WestCAAN)

Our Mission

West Coast Allergy and Asthma Network (WestCAAN) is dedicated to "Creating a safer environment in California Schools for those affected by severe allergies and asthma through awareness, education, training, and advocacy." WestCAAN was organized to work with schools to better enable them to respond to life-threatening anaphylaxis and asthma effectively in the public school setting.

About West Coast Allergy and Asthma Network

WestCAAN was founded in February 2006 by Dr. Larry Posner and Jamie Hintzke. Dr. Posner is a Pediatric Allergist and a principle of North Bay Allergy and Asthma Associates, Past President of Northern California Allergy Pediatric Allergists, and the Board President of WestCAAN. Jamie Hintzke is the mother of a food allergic and asthmatic child. She has a long history of advocating for quality health care in schools and currently serves as the Executive Director of WestCAAN. Together, Dr. Posner, Jamie, and the WestCAAN Board of Directors share a growing concern for the well being of allergic and asthmatic children at school.

California Asthma and Allergy Situation

One in five children with food allergy will experience a reaction in school. Severe food allergies currently affect three to eight percent of children (representing an estimated 203,000 to 541,000 children in California), and the prevalence of food allergies among children in the U.S. has increased substantially with the incidence of peanut allergies doubling in the last five years.

In two different studies, at least 25% of students who were treated with epinephrine were not known previously to have an allergic condition. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network published study, "The US Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy Registry; Characteristics of Reactions in Schools and Day Care", cites that the school reaction represented the first reaction for 25% of the children treated with epinephrine.

Of people who have asthma during their lifetime, 80% have the onset by 5 years of age. In California, 784,000 children under age 17 have had asthma symptoms in the past year, an increase of 210% since 1980. According to the California Health Kids Survey (2001-2003), California's lifetime prevalence for asthma in 7th, 9th and 11th graders is 18.4%. African Americans, at 25.8%, had the highest lifetime asthma prevalence rates, followed by Whites at 20%.2. In California, there were 19 deaths in 2002 due to asthma in children 0-14. Nationally, 123 deaths occurred among children 5-14 years of age in 2002 as the result of asthma.

Current Legislation

Currently, California has in place AB 559 (Wiggins), which allows schools to voluntarily have emergency epinephrine on site for anaphylaxis only. Across the State, it appears that few schools have implemented an emergency epinephrine program on a voluntary basis. One of the barriers is the lack of standardized training materials; school board adopted policies and updated information. State guidelines should include other epinephrine auto-injectors now on the market and be consistent with new national guidelines for anaphylaxis management. For example, second doses can be repeated in 5-10 minutes rather than 15-20 minutes. This information could be the difference between life and death of a student.

Also in California, SB 1912 (Asburn) allows students to carry and self-administer epinephrine and asthma inhalers with a doctor's note. This is an excellent law and a move in the right direction. However, many school nurses and staff will tell you that when the student needs their inhaler, they may have forgotten it, the medication has run out or parents cannot afford a duplicate prescription for the student to carry. In the case of asthma management for a mild to moderate attack, the parents are called to supply medicine. In the case where the student is having a life-threatening asthma attack, lack of medication becomes an emergency health issue. There is no statewide protocol in place to help a child at a public school site while waiting for emergency medical teams to arrive. The school staff, after calling for emergency services, can only watch as the child experiences, increasing difficulty breathing, turning blue, possibly losing consciousness, and possibly dying before help arrives.

Current Projects

WestCAAN is working on strategies to create a pilot to explore best practices in implementing an emergency epinephrine protocol that AB 559 now allows. As well as collecting data to help further our mission. By seeking partners and additional funding, we feel this is a necessary and huge step in protecting our food allergic student population.

We are exploring the possibility of bringing forward new legislation that would improve the emergency care of anaphylaxis and life-threatening asthma in California public schools.

Please contact us if you would like more information or would like to help.



West Coast Allergy & Asthma Network     Phone: 866.713.2224     Email: