Effective Monday, Jan. 23: Visitor restrictions across UNC Hospitals for children under 12

To ensure the safety of our patients, children ages 11 and younger are prohibited from visiting inpatient areas and waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals (at the Chapel Hill and Hillsborough locations) beginning Monday, Jan. 23, 2017.

As we enter the more active period of flu season, beginning Monday, Jan. 23, children ages 11 and younger are prohibited from visiting inpatient areas and inpatient waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals (including Chapel Hill and Hillsborough).


Why are children under 12 years old unable to come to these units at UNC Hospitals?

We understand that visitor restrictions for inpatient areas and waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals present challenges for families and can be difficult for children who have a loved one in the hospital. However, it is important for the safety of our patients in these units that children 11 years old or younger not visit in-person at this time for the following reasons:

  • Children 11 years old and younger get sick more often than adults, and when children get sick their bodies do not fight off infection as fast as adults. 
  • Children with respiratory viruses can spread their illness to others for up to two days before they have any symptoms of being sick.
  • Almost half of children with viral respiratory infections do not have any symptoms, but can still spread the illness.  

We encourage children who wish to visit to write letters instead. We also encourage parents and friends to help  children stay connected while these visitor restrictions are in place through Skype or FaceTime.


When should I not visit UNC Hospitals?

No matter your age, if you have a fever, an active cough, a runny nose with nasal congestion or a sore throat, you should not visit UNC Hospitals unless you are coming to receive medical care.


How can I reduce my risk of getting sick?

The most effective way to avoid flu infection is to get a flu vaccine every year. The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive a flu vaccine each year. 

Vaccination not only protects against infection but helps prevent the spread of the flu to individuals at highest risk of serious complications, including young children, older adults and those who have chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems.

Frequent and thorough hand-washing or hand hygiene with an alcohol based hand rub is another highly effective way to remove germs, avoid getting sick and help prevent the spread of flu and other infections. The CDC recommends following a five-step process for hand washing: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. At UNC Hospitals, our health care personnel protect our patients and each other through our hand hygiene program, "Clean In, Clean Out."

Learn more about how to stay healthy during flu season at this link.


What do we do at UNC Hospitals to protect patients during flu season?

  • We require that all our health care personnel receive the flu vaccine each year.
  • Hand hygiene before and after each patient contact, which is a priority at the hospitals every day of the year, is emphasized during flu season to help reduce the spread of infection.
  • Additionally, we monitor local respiratory infection data and enact Flu Alert visitor restrictions for children 11 years old and younger when there are high numbers of circulating respiratory infections in the community. High-risk units like the Newborn Critical Care Center, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and Bone Marrow Transplant Unit begin visitor restrictions sooner than the rest of the hospital.

Thank you for helping to keep our patients and employees safe!


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