CDC issues revised guidelines for flu prevention

By: September 29th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

With flu season on the rise, it’s becoming more important for healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors’ offices to receive vaccination for their workers.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a series of guidelines this month with updates on controlling the influenza virus. According to the CDC, preventing the spread of the virus includes proper hand hygiene, managing sick health care workers, following all infection control safety measures, and distributing the vaccine.

One update, “Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings,” offers information on facemasks and respirators, including offering face masks to patients with influenza-like-illnesses, and instructing healthcare workers with fever and respiratory symptoms “not to report to work, or if at work, to stop patient-care activities, don a facemask, and promptly notify their supervisor and infection control personnel/occupational health before leaving work.”

The CDC also recommends that when a healthcare worker goes into a patient’s room with signs or confirmed influenza, they must wear a facemask, throw it away after use, and then wash their hands.

Respirators work a bit differently than a facemask.  Though it is worn on your face covering the nose and mouth, its purpose is to decrease inhalation of harmful airborne germs, gases, and any other hazardous material.  Healthcare workers must wear respirators during the use of aerosol procedures such as bronchoscopy, sputum induction, elective intubation and extubation, according to the CDC.

CDC updates will be provided as new information becomes available. More information on influenza prevention, treatment, and control can be found on the CDC’s influenza website.

Click here for a series of guidelines


By Bridget Pachay on September 29th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

How long before OSHA follows suit and endorses these changes?

Our Infectious Disease leaders have endorsed the change. It protects the patient, and far less expensive. Using this new protocol allows organizations to design mandatory vaccination polices or use of masks. It is a win-win.

By Bridget Pachay on October 5th, 2010 at 11:57 am

Yes, but until OSHA comes out with their endorsement, like last year they said N95’s for influenza, we still have to wear the respirator. I am wondering if anyone knows if OSHA will be addressing this?

By David LaHoda on October 5th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I disagree that you have to wait until OSHA follows suit with a speicific interpretation.

Last year’s document was specific to 2009 H1N1, Enforcement Procedures for High to Very High Occupational Exposure Risk to 2009 H1N1 Influenza,and it emphasized that it is based on the CDC Guidelines, Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings.

With the CDC now saying that Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings “supersedes previous CDC guidance for both seasonal influenza and the Interim Guidance on Infection Control Measures for 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Healthcare Settings,” the very document on which OSHA based it enforcement procedures, you are on solid ground in implementing the change from respirators to face masks for routine care, in my opinion.

By Kevin D. Bryant, MPH, CHSP on October 6th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Mr. Lahoda is correct, OSHA will follow CDC guidance, as per this statement:


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