by: San Tan Valley Indepedent
Banner Ironwood Medical Center is requiring all staff, physicians and volunteers to get the flu vaccine this year. Approximately 95 percent of staff received the vaccine to date.
Though all hospitals offer flu shots, voluntary immunization rates typically hover at about 50 percent. Banner Ironwood is the only hospital in Arizona, and one of the few in the country, to make the flu vaccine mandatory, according to a press release. This project, which could expand to all of Banner Health’s facilities, intends to make Banner Ironwood the safest hospital in the state against the flu.
Influenza has been estimated to kill 24,000 to 36,000 Americans each year. Vaccination of healthcare workers against influenza has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control since 1981. Vaccination rates greater than 90 percent are recommended to improve the safety of patients cared for in healthcare facilities.
“ The flu is preventable. It is our duty to step up and protect our patients and employees alike,” said Banner Ironwood Chief Medical Officer Michael O’Connor, M.D.
This year, Banner launched an educational campaign for all employees – “No Flu For You” – to highlight the benefits of flu shots for employees in the medical industry, and to promote voluntary immunization. Banner Ironwood plans to reach its goal of having all staff vaccinated by Dec. 1. Those who cannot comply due to medical reasons will be required to wear a safety mask to prevent transmission of the virus.