Get those lunches made and set the alarm clocks; school’s back in session.
Parents know that a new school year means new clothes, new books, maybe a new backpack—and perhaps a new set of prescriptions. As a pharmacist, I know the school year has started when frustrated parents show up at my store with lots of questions.
The good news is that I can help! Here are 5 helpful solutions for common back-to-school medication issues.
My child needs 1 inhaler for home and 1 inhaler for school—what do I do?
You never know when an asthma attack can occur, so it’s important to be prepared, especially if your child participates in recess, gym class, or after school sporting events.
If your child uses a short-acting or rescue inhaler for their asthma, your child needs to have an inhaler available for use at home as well as at school.
Some examples of rescue inhalers include:
To purchase two inhalers—one for home and one for school—you’ll need to make sure that your doctor gives you a prescription stating exactly that. Your pharmacy will need documentation from your doctor’s office that one inhaler will be for home use and one inhaler will be for school use.
Why does your pharmacy need to know? They need the documentation in order for your insurance company to pay for both inhalers. Whether your doctor handwrites your prescription or sends it electronically, make sure to remind him or her to include this necessary information.
My child has life-threatening allergic reactions. How can I make sure the school is prepared?
If your child uses an epinephrine injection like EpiPen, EpiPen Jr, Auvi-Q, or the generic epinephrine auto-injector, it’s important to make sure they have one for home and one for school (just like rescue inhalers).
Ask your doctor to indicate on the actual prescription that the two injectors are for home and for school, so that in case of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction, the school can be prepared.
Need help with the cost? EpiPen and EpiPen Jr both have a co-pay savings card that will discount multiple EpiPen 2-Pak cartons—which is important for children needing a pen for home and a pen for school.
Auvi-Q has a helpful back-to-school informational page for your child’s school nurse, faculty, and staff as well as a co-pay savings card.
The generic epinephrine auto-injector also has a co-pay savings card to help reduce the cost for those who qualify.
My child takes medication that needs to be re-dosed while at school. What can I do?
If your child takes a medication that will need to be given during school hours, the pharmacy can help—but first, check with your child’s school to find out their requirements for giving medication during school hours.
As long as your school allows medication to be given during the day, the pharmacy can give you an extra bottle with an extra label with the same information and directions.
This will allow you to put some of your child’s medication in the extra bottle, and take it to the school to be given by the nurse or trained school administration.
My child is a diabetic—how can it be handled during school?
Juvenile diabetes has become much more common in the last 30 years. Your school nurse should be familiar with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Your child’s school should have a refrigerator to store insulin vials or pens, if needed, as well as staff trained in diabetes care.
If you have a question regarding state laws, regulations, and policies for school diabetes care check out the American Diabetes Association for more in-depth information.
How can I help keep my child from getting the flu?
The CDC has 3 recommendations to help fight flu in schools: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm
- Get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older, and vaccinations can reduce illness and keep the flu from catching—especially in environments like schools where germs can spread quickly.
- Use everyday preventive techniques. Encourage your child to practice good health habits like hand washing and avoiding touching their eyes, nose, and mouth. If you or your child may be sick, covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing and making sure to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever ends can also help keep flu and other illnesses from spreading.
- Take antiviral drugs like Tamiflu if you or your child do get sick. These medications can shorten the time you’re sick, and make the sickness more mild. It’s best to start them within 2 days of getting sick, but there may be some cases where they can still help if it’s been longer. Make sure you get in touch with your doctor’s office as soon as possible after symptoms start.
Have a healthy, happy school year!
The GoodRx Pharmacist