Banner Health launches mandatory flu-shot policy
for all personnel
PHOENIX (Sept. 11, 2012) – Banner Health is launching a systemwide mandatory flu vaccine policy which will require all employees, employed physicians, volunteers, vendors, contractors and health care students to be vaccinated by Dec. 1.
The requirement is part of Banner’s “No Flu for You” program, which aims to ensure that Banner-affiliated personnel are vaccinated. This plan involves more than 36,000 employees at Banner’s acute-care hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.
“We believe this is the right thing to do to protect our patients, visitors, employees, physicians and volunteers,” says Marjorie Bessel, MD, chief medical officer for Banner Health’s Arizona East region. “The flu can be prevented and immunization is a very effective way to decrease the spread of the virus.”
The flu vaccine will be provided free to all Banner Health employees, medical staff and volunteers, with vaccinations beginning in early September. Those unable to receive the vaccination because of medical or religious reasons will have the opportunity to apply for an exemption to meet the Dec. 1 deadline.
Individuals who don’t receive the vaccine will be required to wear a surgical mask wherever patients may be present during the flu season, from Dec. 1 through March 31.
The flu is a contagious disease and contributes to more than 36,000 preventable deaths annually in the U.S., and vaccination is a very effect way to prevent it. According for the Centers of Disease Control, flu vaccination of health care workers have been shown to help prevent death in patients, as well as reduce the influenza infection.
Young children, people 65 years of age or older, pregnant women and people with conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease or a weakened immune system are at high risk for getting the flu, which can cause fever and pneumonia and make existing medical conditions worse.
The flu shot that’s given to all health care workers and the general public this year protects against two strains of influenza A and influenza B virus. This year, shots are being given in September since flu season typically begins in October with spikes in January and February. The vaccine protects for about one year.
During last year’s flu season, Banner Ironwood Medical Center in San Tan Valley, Ariz., piloted this program with more than 99 percent of all required personnel receiving the vaccine.
Banner Health’s “No Flu for You” campaign also includes education about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which can’t cause the flu and is 70 to 90 percent effective at preventing the three most common types of the virus each year.
ABOUT BANNER HEALTH
Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns or manages 22 acute-care hospitals, long-term care centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care services, a nursing registry and home medical equipment services in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.