Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness

At a Glance

Here at the San Mateo County Office of Education, we are committed to ensuring all 95,000 students in our county have everything they need to be healthy so they can come to school ready to learn. 


The State of California eliminated the personal belief exemption for immunizations and requires that all medically eligible children receive vaccines for a number of potentially serious diseases before attending public or private school. For more information about the safety of immunizations, please refer to our Immunizations page. 

Epinephrine Injectors (EpiPens)

As of January 1, 2015, all schools in California are required to stock at least one epinephrine injector, which is used in case of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and hives, and the quick use of epinephrine can save someone's life.

Approximately one in thirteen children suffers from a food allergy, but severe allergies often aren't diagnosed until a child is exposed to the allergen. The California Department of Education estimates that about 25% of students have their first anaphylactic reaction at school, which is why it's so important for schools to be stocked with EpiPens.

Each school must designate one or more staff members to volunteer to attend annual trainings on the use and storage of epinephrine injectors. These volunteers learn how to recognize the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, how to use the injector, and how to perform emergency follow-up procedures.

The following are resources about EpiPens and related procedures for schools:

EpiPen Procedures (diagram with EpiPen algorithm)

Anaphylaxis Treatment Procedure/Protocols

Epinephrine Auto-Injector (EAI) Administration Incident

Letter from San Mateo County Schools Insurance Group describing the content and intent of SB 1266.

For more information on State policy concerning EpiPens, please visit the California Department of Education website.

Electronic Cigarettes

What is an electronic cigarette? An electronic cigarette, or an e-cigarette, is a battery-powered device that vaporizes liquids, allowing users to inhale them. Many of these liquids contain nicotine, though some are nicotine free.

Are e-cigarettes harmful? Although the use of e-cigarettes, known as "vaping," is often touted as a safer alternative to smoking, there is no government oversight of the manufacturers or the devices themselves. According to the American Lung Association, lab tests conducted by the FDA found detectable levels of carcinogens, or cancer-causing chemicals, in two brands of e-cigarettes and 18 cartridges.

These companies also aren't regulated in the same way as traditional cigarette companies when it comes to marketing to young people, which is having an alarming effect. A 2014 study found that children were actually using e-cigarettes at higher rates than regular cigarettes, and that number is growing every year. In San Mateo County, 10% of ninth graders and 15% of eleventh graders say they've used e-cigarettes four or more times.

What are schools doing to prevent the use of e-cigarettes? A number of districts and the San Mateo County Office of Education have updated their tobacco policies to prohibit the possession and use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, or e-cigarettes.

Schools are also working to inform students that possession and use of e-cigarettes is illegal for students who are under 18 years of age, and a number of districts are providing informational workshops on the health risks of e-cigarettes for students and parents.

For more information, visit the American Lung Association website.