ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Some children are one bite away from a deadly reaction. Florida school systems work closely with the states health department, which does not mandate districts to have EpiPens in stock at schools. The auto-injectors contain medication that could help to save a life.
Joey Risner like any 6 year old, he enjoys playing around. He's also a big fan of snacks like popcorn but stays clear of peanuts.
His mother Elisa Pastore says he is constantly threatened by Anaphylaxis where the throat swells and the airway clamps shut which occurs if he's exposed to any form of peanuts.
On February 14, Pastore says she got a call from a nurse at Joey's school saying he may have ingested peanuts and he threw up. He was sent home on the school bus and by late afternoon Pastore says Joey ended up in the hospital.
"My biggest concern is even if he wasn't in distress give him the shot," said Pastore. "That's the protocol for his allergy. That he has to have the shot. And they didn't."
The St. John's County school district along with Duval and Clay counties require students to provide their own EpiPens. They must have a prescription in order to have access to the medication. Which little Joey does have, but on that Valentine's day when his mother says he apparently ate a chocolate covered peanut heart, her then 5-year-old did not have his medication in school.
Pastore argues the school system should have EpiPens on-hand, just in case. President Obama, who's own daughter suffers from a peanut allergy, signed into law in 2013 the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act that offers a financial incentive for states that require schools to have a stock of EpiPens available. Still most states do not.
"To have a kid go through that, I mean a little mistake is horrible," said Pastore. "No mother wants to go through that.
And I wouldn't want any mother to go through that either."
The public school systems in Duval, Clay and St John's counties all train teachers and nurses on how to use the EpiPen. But none of them have the medication in stock for any student with a medical emergency. Their policy is to call 911.