Governor signs emergency epinephrine law

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A bittersweet moment for a Chesterfield mom as the governor signs into law a bill requiring emergency epinephrine in Virginia schools.

Governor Bob McDonell signed Amarria's law during a ceremony this morning at Binford Middle School in Richmond. Amarria Johnson died in January after having an allergic reaction to a peanut.

A special work group has met twice already to iron out policies to administer the emergency epinephrine. Members are talking about the medical aspect and how to recognize a severe allergic reaction.

More tears for Laura Pendleton. Only on this day, they're brought on by her success at having life-saving legislation signed into law.

"House bill 1107 will be Amarria's law so that's exciting," said Pendleton.

Her daughter, Amarria Johnson, died in January after having an allergic reaction to a peanut she ate during recess at Chesterfield's Hopkins Elementary school.

"It is rare to find some people who can find their way through their tears and heartache and personal loss, to want to go out and do something that will help other people," said Governor Bob McDonnell.

A special work group is coming up with the protocols for school divisions to administer the emergency epinephrine. It's looking at how many EpiPens are needed on any given day and paying for them in the long term.

The state allocated $200,000 to cover the cost for the 2012-2013 school year.

"That's a one time set of funding. Obviously when you purchase the EpiPens they have a shelf life of one year, so there will be an ongoing cost and that's if you haven't used the two in a twin pack," said Shawn Smith with Chesterfield Schools.

Smith said they have nurses and clinic aides available to give the shot. But you have to know what to look out for.

"Difficulty breathing, anxiety, sometimes a rash like hives," said Dr. William Moskowitz, President of The Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Moskowitz said parents need to have a plan.

"You can have an EpiPen at school, but if you've left school grounds and have gone to sports, you don't have the protection," said Dr. Moskowitz.

Johnson's mother told these students the same thing.

"Those with food allergies to be careful. Always have a plan, because Amarria, just at 7-years-old, she always had a plan," said Pendleton.

The special work group may even create training videos to share with school divisions. It's meeting again next week.

The law takes effect in July, but school divisions have until the fall to get policies in place for the new school year.

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