The emergency treatment of anaphylaxis in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic

The emergency treatment of anaphylaxis in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 17 June 2020
  • News

Children are beginning to return to school under new social distancing rules and regulations. We have been contacted by concerned parents and school staff about how the COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictions in place because of it, affect the giving of emergency treatment to children experiencing a severe allergic reaction/anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction and always requires an immediate emergency response. The response will inevitably require close contact which could increase the risk of cross infection for any infectious disease, including COVID-19. However, this risk must be weighed against the likelihood that the child could die if assistance is not given immediately.

If a child is having a severe allergic reaction, it is vital that they receive an adrenaline injection. This must be given as soon as a severe reaction is suspected to be occurring and an ambulance must be called. The adrenaline should be administered first and an ambulance should be called immediately afterwards.

If a child requires CPR the Resuscitation Council (UK) has the following advice:-

We accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child/infant. However, this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and the death of the child.

Anaphylaxis Campaign, along with the BSACI and Allergy UK, has sent a joint letter to the Department for Education requesting that it issue a clear statement about teacher’s obligations should a child suffer anaphylaxis at school. The joint letter is available to read here.

Please see government guidance for first responders here

For further advice and precautions for giving life saving emergency treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic please see the full resuscitation council guidelines here

The Health and Safety Executive has also published guidance for First Aiders in non-healthcare settings which can be accessed here

For guidance on ‘What to do in an Emergency (Anaphylaxis) go here

Free Anaphylaxis Training for schools can be found here