Wellness Articles

Flu and Cold Season

It is that time of year again, when you are subject to the ravages of the common cold and flu. Colds are the most common reason that children miss school and parents miss work. Colds can occur year-round, but are most common in the winter season (even in areas with mild winters, like Arizona).

Although the flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. It can be difficult to tell them apart because they have similar symptoms. Both flu and cold viruses are transmitted through microscopic droplets from an infected person’s respiratory system. The person sneezes or coughs, and droplets are sprayed onto any nearby surface or person. 

To Prevent the Spread of Cold and Flu Viruses:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Use an alcohol based gel if you do not have access to water.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow to avoid direct contact with your hands.
  • Turn your head away from others when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This prevents germs from entering your body.
  • Stay away from crowds during cold and flu season.
  • Be sure to get your annual flu shot (recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).The flu shot is a simple way to keep the flu away.

Banner Health’s Occupational Health Department offers flu shot free of charge to all employees.

Regular aerobic exercise also boosts the immune system. People who exercise may still catch a virus, but they often have less severe symptoms and recover quicker than those who do not exercise regularly.

Mandatory Flu Education Course

All Banner employees will be required to complete a mandatory flu education course in the Banner Learning Center (BLC). The course is designed to provide greater education and awareness regarding the flu virus, prevention and vaccination.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Flu Education Course

Q: Why do I need to complete a BLC module on flu?

A: Banner Health has a strong desire to improve our influenza immunization rates in order to better protect our patients, our staff and their families. The BLC module provides education and facts about the flu and the flu shot to help you make an informed decision about receiving the flu shot.

Q: If I choose to decline the flu shot, why do I need to select a reason for declining in the BLC module?

A: Regulatory bodies, such as The Joint Commission, require Banner Health to offer the flu shot to all staff, but also require us to track why people do not get the flu shot. The BLC module will help us meet these regulatory requirements.

Q: If I choose to get my flu shot in the BLC, what happens?

A: The BLC module is being piloted to track flu shot rates for departments and facilities across Banner Health, just like is currently done for TB skin tests in Arizona.

If you receive your flu shot from Occupational/Employee Health, you will be included in the flu shot rate reports for your department/facility.

If you receive your flu shot outside of Banner, such as from your physician or a community flu shot clinic, bring a copy of your receipt or proof that you received the flu shot to Occupational/Employee Health and they will make sure you are included in the flu shot rate reports.

This tracking helps us meet regulatory requirements and helps us know how much vaccine to order for next year.

Q: When does the BLC module need to be completed by?

A: The BLC module needs to be completed by December 1. Flu season usually runs from December to March each year. The flu shot is the most effective way to protect our patients, our staff and their families from the flu, so we want to have as many staff as possible receive the flu shot by December 1.

Q: Do I have to do the Flu BLC module each year?

A: Yes. Because we are using the BLC module to track flu shot rates as well as for education purposes, it must be completed each flu season. Employees will need to complete the BLC module each year between September and December.