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Arizona Schools Will Soon Be Allowed To Administer Asthma Inhalers

asthma inhaler
(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
It's long been verbotten for Arizona schools to stock and administer asthma medication, but that's changing this summer.

Public schools in Arizona are not allowed to have inhalers on-hand to treat students experiencing an asthma attack. But that’s about to change.

Starting this summer, every public school will be able to stock and administer asthma medication. Dr. Lynn Gerald, who is a professor at the University of Arizona and is with the Asthma and Airways Disease Research Center, applauds the new law – recently signed by Gov. Doug Ducey.

Right now, if a child forgets her inhaler at home or can’t afford one and gets an asthma attack at school, “the only choice a school has is to call 911 or call a parent to try to bring the medication,” Gerald said, “but if a child is administered the medication, they can usually take two to four puffs of the medication and return right back to class.”

Gerald said around 10 percent of children in the state have asthma, and only a small percentage of them has an inhaler at school.

She said this new law doesn’t provide funding for inhalers, but all Pima County public school students will soon have the medication available to them.

That’s because Banner University Medical Center has agreed to donate the inhalers in every school in the county.   

Gerald said that after a pilot program brought inhalers into some Pima County schools, they were able to reduce medical transports by 40 percent.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.