Flu update: Masks off

March 16, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements, Strategy & Leadership, Updates & Resources

As the number of influenza cases in our area continues to drop, the need to require unvaccinated faculty, staff, trainees, volunteers and contractors to wear masks has waned.

If you have been wearing a mask because you were not vaccinated against the flu, this is the official “masks off” message.  Effective immediately, flu masks no longer need to be worn in the hospital setting, unless you are ill with an upper respiratory infection.

In all, 24,314 members of the UMHS community received the flu vaccine this year. Of our clinical workforce, 88 percent were vaccinated. Together, all of us – whether vaccinated or wearing a mask – helped protect our patients from becoming infected with a virus that can cause serious illness in vulnerable people.

Please be aware that even though cases have decreased, there is still flu in our area and we should continue to abide by all infection control best practices.

Work restrictions for employees with influenza-like illness still apply. Employees with fever and an upper respiratory infection (e.g. coughing, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, etc.) must not report to work until fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medication. Any employee who is ill with an upper respiratory infection plus other influenza symptoms (muscle aches, chills, headache) with or without fever, must stay home until fever free and until all influenza symptoms have resolved for at least 24 hours without the use of medication. Employees with just an upper respiratory infection (no fever or other influenza symptoms) may report to work, but must wear a mask during all patient contact.

Supervisors: Please share this message with staff who do not have routine access to email.