Anaphylaxis in schools


IMPORTANT The information provided is of a general nature and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you think you may suffer from an allergic or other disease that requires attention, you should discuss it with your family doctor. The content of the information articles and all illustrations on this website remains the intellectual property of Dr Raymond Mullins and cannot be reproduced without written permission.

Children spend over one third of their waking hours at school and are dependent on care givers such as parents, child care workers or teachers to provide a safe environment. Very young infants at preschool and child care are probably at greatest risk, since food allergy is more common in this group. They are also dependent on care-givers to prepare and distribute food and more likely to grab food or objects contaminated with food allergen.

Education Department guidelines generally emphasise the importance of providing a safe environment for children at school. Sometimes this means repairing broken play equipment, sometimes removing bee hives and sometimes making recommendations about what foods should or should not be brought to school. Most of not all Australian state-based education department guidelines also allow staff to administer First Aid and emergency medication if required, including adrenaline.

Reducing the risk at school
Discussion about anaphylaxis often centres on the administration of medication. While administration of life-saving medication (like EpiPen) is an essential part of management of patients with life-threatening allergies, it is just as important to take steps to avoid potential triggers, and to recognise signs of anaphylaxis when they do occur.

That is why the Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy have written Guidelines for the Prevention, Recognition and Management of Anaphylaxis in Childcare and Schools. The salient points are:

1. Children who have had food allergy/anaphylaxis in the past should be identified at school enrolment, and that staff should be made aware of all relevant information.

2. Appropriate strategies should be in place to minimise the risk of accidental exposure at school

3. Staff should be trained how to recognise symptoms of anaphylaxis.

4. All children at risk of anaphylaxis should have an Emergency Action Plan

  1. 5.This plan should be reviewed annually

See the guidelines at:

Anaphylaxis resources

The Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy has a number of online anaphylaxis resources useful for parents, doctors, other health professional and schools, including regular updates of its Action Plans which can be downloaded and filled out by your GP, paediatrician or allergy specialist.  These Action Plans are recommended to be used in preference  those that may have been developed “in-house” by some education departments in past years. See:

Last reviewed 27 June 2020