Zachy Munoz is not your average 11-year-old boy. He has a food allergy that can cause him to go into anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment with epinephrine, a drug that is administered by using a plastic epipen. Zachy is allergic to nuts, shellfish, beans, peas, avocados, and sesame.
When he was six years old, he had a near-death allergic reaction at school. “Something was different, so I went to the nurse and I started throwing up feeling sick,” he said. Fortunately, his school had epinephrine on hand and someone trained to use it. However, not every campus in California has the medicine or the staff to administer it.
That’s why Zachy is taking his story to the California State Capitol, trying to pass a bill that would require schools to make epinephrine more accessible and train more people to use it. The bill is called Zachy’s Bill, and it has the support of Sen. Anthony Portantino, who called Zachy “the best advocate in the Capitol”.
an 11-year-old boy went to the state capitol to ask lawmakers to make sure that schools have medicine to save lives if a student has a severe allergy:
Zachy’s Bill would ensure that epinephrine is accessible at all times and that there is clear communication about where it is stored. It would also allow more people, such as teachers and volunteers, to be trained to administer epinephrine in case of an emergency.
Zachy has testified in front of lawmakers in support of the bill, sharing his personal experience and the stories of other kids who have died from allergic reactions at school. “Some kids didn’t get epinephrine on time, or at all, and didn’t make it,” he said.
On Friday, September 1, 2023, Zachy’s Bill cleared a major hurdle in a senate committee, with Zachy sitting right in the front row. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
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The legislature says there is no organized opposition to the bill, but it could cost school districts several hundred thousand dollars to implement statewide. Zachy believes that the cost is worth it because epinephrine is his only lifeline. “I believe that the cost is very worth it because epinephrine is our only lifeline,” he said.
According to the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), there are about 500,000 kids in California and six million nationwide who have food allergies. FARE says that food allergies are a growing public health issue that affects one in 13 children in the U.S. and that every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
Zachy hopes that his bill will help save lives and raise awareness about food allergies. He also wants to inspire other kids to speak up for themselves and their health. “I want them to know that they’re not alone and that they can make a difference,” he said.