Health Team

More hospitals set limits on young visitors

Posted October 1, 2009 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2009 5:43 p.m. EDT

— Hospitals across central North Carolina are putting new limits in place for visitors as a precaution to limit the spread of the H1N1 and seasonal flu viruses.

Hospitals have said they are limiting visits by young people who are more likely to catch the strain of H1N1 virus that is prevalent this year. Young people are at greater risk for the H1N1 strain of the flu, according to Raleigh physician Dr. Allen Mask, because those over the age of 60 may have some resistance built up from earlier exposure in a vaccination or virus.

No one younger than 13 is permitted to visit the Newborn Critical Care Center, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Labor and Delivery Unit at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, a spokesman said.

At WakeMed hospitals, no one under 18 is allowed to visit, and the pediatric units are limited to parents or direct caregivers. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville has a similar policy.

Halifax Regional Medical Center in Roanoke Rapids has banned visitors 5 and younger, and discouraged visits by older children and pregnant women. At Rex Hospitals, visitors must be over the age of 12.

The Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro has banned visitors younger than 18 from all facilities.

The H1N1 flu strain first identified in April is now responsible for almost all flu cases in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has caused more than 1 million illnesses so far, though most were mild and not reported.

A vaccine is expected to be available beginning in October, the CDC has said. That vaccine is designated for pregnant women, those who live with or care for children 6 months or younger, health care workers, people aged 6 months through 24 years, and people with chronic health problems or compromised immune systems.