A remarkable nearly 100 percent of Banner Health’s approximately 36,000 employees have complied with the company’s No Flu For You policy. This commitment by Banner employees, to decrease the risk of flu infections among fellow employees and patients, is especially timely as the Centers for Disease Control is predicting an early start to a potentially heavy and deadly flu season.
All employees and volunteers were required to receive the flu vaccine, which was offered at no cost. Those unable to receive the vaccination because of medical or religious reasons were able to receive an exemption but must wear masks during the flu season.
“Patients and families who turn to Banner Health can be assured that our employees have taken the necessary steps to ensure their safety and prevent the spread of the flu,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, M.D., chief medical officer for Banner’s Arizona East Region.
This policy is in place at all of Banner’s facilities including all of its acute-care hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. At least 11 states, including Colorado, have regulations enacted regarding influenza immunization of healthcare workers, either requiring immunization or signed declinations for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
Banner continues to work with less than five employees who are not in compliance to ensure their return to the workplace. None of these employees are currently working at Banner facilities, so patients and their families can be assured Banner is doing its very best to protect everyone during the flu season.
The flu is a contagious and deadly disease, contributing to more than 36,000 preventable deaths annually in the U.S. Vaccination is a very effective 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.
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 became available in September since flu season typically begins in October with spikes in January and February. The vaccine protects for about one year.
About Banner Health
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns or manages 23 acute-care hospitals, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including physician clinics and home care and hospice services. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.