Beekeepers may not be aware that the emergency treatment for anaphylaxis to a bee sting is covered by ACC. This covers the ambulance cost, and the person can also claim reimbursement for using their own EpiPen if this is the case. More information is available here.
Anyone who has had an anaphylactic reaction to bee venom should be referred to a clinical immunology and allergy specialist for follow-up including to assess future risk, provide an Anaphylaxis Action Plan, prescription for EpiPens, and advice on immunotherapy as a treatment.
Venom immunotherapy (VIT) is usually recommended for those who have had anaphylaxis, as it can significantly reduce the risk of having a severe reaction if stung by a bee again. The vaccine for the treatment is funded by Pharmac, and it is given by regular injections for five years in most cases. The first (initiation) phase is usually administered in a hospital or outpatient setting under specialist supervision. Ongoing injections may then be done by GPs who have resuscitation equipment available and are comfortable to carry the injections on. Patients should approach their GP before they start the whole initiation process to make sure they are willing to do this.
VIT can result in long-term tolerance to bee venom for 10–20 years and sometimes longer. However, it is not suitable for some people such as with other health conditions, and this needs to be assessed by an allergy specialist.