KINGMAN - Beginning today, Kingman Regional Medical Center will enact visitor restrictions that will prohibit anyone under the age of 17 from visiting patients.
The new restrictions are based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control in response to the spread of the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
Anyone with flu-like symptoms will not be allowed in the hospital unless they are a patient.
Children under 17 who are not sick will be restricted to designated waiting rooms on the main floor of the hospital only, including the lobbies and the cafeteria. They will not be allowed to visit patients, including new siblings born at KRMC.
According to Dr. Jakulla Khan, an infectious disease specialist at KRMC, children ages 6 months to 24 years old are most at risk for contracting swine flu. Those who are older appear somewhat immune to the virus, he said.
Debbie DeMarch, an infection preventionist at KRMC, said at a swine flu lecture last month that the hospital will begin flu vaccinations as soon as the vaccination is available. That is expected to be toward the end of this month.
The first available vaccinations will go to the most at-risk groups, including pregnant women, healthcare workers, people caring for infants, and children and adults with underlying conditions.
Swine flu is spread the same way as the seasonal flu, such as through coughs and sneezes, but it is believed it can also be contracted by touching an object with the virus and then touching your nose or mouth.
Khan said those experiencing symptoms should call their doctors before visiting a hospital to prevent spreading it to others.