PHOENIX - Banner Health will set visitor restrictions at all its medical facilities in hopes of halting the spread of influenza and other seasonal diseases this flu season.
Effective January 20, visitors who have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea are prohibited from all Banner Health hospitals, said Banner Health spokesman Corey Schubert.
In addition, visitors under the age of 13 will also be restricted from Banner Health hospitals, Schubert said. Siblings with no flu symptoms are allowed to visit a newborn in the Obstetrics Unit of Banner Health medical facilities but may be screened for illness by staff before they're allowed to visit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," the predominant strain of influenza circulating this season is the same virus that caused the 2009 pandemic, Influenza A (H1N1). The H1N1 strain is unique in that in 2009, it caused severe illness and even death in those less than 65 years of age and without underlying health conditions."
Banner Health employees received flu vaccinations by December 1 of last year, Schubert said. Employees who were unable to receive the vaccination due to medical or religious reasons are required to wear a mask at hospitals during the flu season.
Flu season begins in October and can last as long as May, according to the CDC.
Banner Health is headquartered in Phoenix and is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. Banner Health is in seven states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.