Increased influenza activity prompts masking requirements

01/11/2013

Increased influenza activity in Kittitas County has prompted the release of a health order by Kittitas County Public Health Department.  In response to this health order, KVCH has activated its Influenza Control Plan.

The KVCH Influenza Control Plan contains measures to protect patients and employees during periods of increased influenza activity.  Included in the Influenza Control Plan is a requirement that all employees and volunteers at KVCH who have not been vaccinated for influenza wear a surgical mask when working within six feet of a patient.  

In addition, patients and visitors who have symptoms of influenza, including fever, cough, or sore throat, will be asked to wear a mask while they are in the healthcare facility.  

"Influenza is preventable and should be taken seriously," said Rhonda Holden, Chief Nursing Officer.  "We are taking preventive measures in order to protect our patients, visitors and employees from influenza."

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each year, and eighty-five percent of KVCH employees and volunteers have already received the flu vaccine this season. Those who have not been vaccinated may have medical or personal reasons for declining the vaccine.

Influenza is the second leading cause of vaccine preventable deaths in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 influenza-related deaths each year.