Senator Chris Nybo was recently recognized by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), the nation’s largest food allergy patient advocacy group, for his leadership in advocating for people with food allergies in Illinois.
“Any parent who sends their child off to school every day, first and foremost, you want your child to be safe. Senator Nybo was the first in Illinois to step up. He got to the heart of the matter very quickly,” said Jennifer Jobrack, senior national director of advocacy for FARE. “It always takes a group. It was a bipartisan effort, but Senator Nybo was definitely a leader not only in the state but in the nation, and that’s why we honor him.”
Senator Nybo has a history of sponsoring and supporting legislation to improve the safety of individuals with food allergies, particularly children.
As a State Representative, he was the lead sponsor of House Bill 3294, which when signed in August 2011 made Illinois the sixth state in the country to allow schools to stock undesignated epinephrine. Epinephrine, commonly dispensed through an auto-injector often called an EpiPen, is the only medication that can halt the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.
According to Illinois State Board of Education data released in June 2016, 17 districts representing 59 public schools reported administering 65 doses of undesignated epinephrine during the 2014-2015 school year. Nearly 60 percent of those EpiPens were used on students who did not have a previously diagnosed allergy so they did not have a prescription for the lifesaving medication.
“This is life or death, literally. It’s gratifying to know that it (Emergency Epinephrine Act) has been used and kids’ lives have been saved,” Jobrack said. “Senator Nybo’s work helped make that possible.”
More recently, Senator Nybo was the Senate sponsor for House Bill 4462, which expands the authorization for schools to stock epinephrine, includes other authorized entities to stock it, and creates the Annie LeGere law which allows trained police officers to carry and use EpiPens in emergencies. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the new legislation August 5 and it goes into effect in January 2017.
“I truly appreciate this honor. It’s humbling to be recognized for an effort personal to me as a father,” Senator Nybo said. “We all have a mission to protect everyone, especially our children, from life-threatening food allergies.”
According to statistics, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every three minutes, and more than 15 million people are affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis. This potentially deadly condition affects one in 13 children in the United States – or roughly two in every classroom, FARE reports.