Pregnant nurse: I was fired for refusing flu vaccine

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By Allie Malloy


(CNN) — A pregnant nurse tells CNN she was fired from her job after she refused to get a flu shot for fear of miscarrying.

“I’m a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it,” Dreonna Breton told CNN Sunday. “I’m not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem.”

Breton, 29, worked as a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises that all health care professionals get vaccinated annually.

She told her employers that she would not get the vaccine after she explained that there were very limited studies of the effects on pregnant women.

Breton came to the decision with her family after three miscarriages.

The mother of one submitted letters from her obstetrician and primary care doctor supporting her decision, but she was told that she would be fired on December 17 if she did not receive the vaccine before then.

Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson told CNN affiliate WPVI that it’s unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.

The CDC website states that getting a flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for pregnant women and their babies.

“I know that the CDC says to get it, and that’s fine, but it was our choice to avoid the flu vaccine and the unknowns that come with that,” Breton said.

Breton offered to wear a face mask at work, a practice that is used if employees are exempted for religious reasons. The hospital did not approve, according to Breton.

Breton has no interest in taking legal action, she said. She stated she only wants the company to reevaluate their policy on vaccines for pregnant employees and to continue working as a nurse.

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  • Gail capson

    my husband is a travel nurse and the company he is with presently told him you either get the shot or you wont have employment through our company ., he tried telling them its against everything he believes in he does not like putting chemicals into his body .. i think that employers are crossing the line by forcing ppl to take the shot .. they should make them sign a waiver . most of the nurses that recieved the shot got sick i took precautions in our home i gave my hubby extra herbs and doubled on fish oil , vitamin c ,, , vitamin d , the government is in our business to much !! .

    • Bob Sparks

      While signing a waiver sounds ideal – the issue is, would you and your husband accept full responsibility if he got the flu and then transmitted it to the patients he is supposed to be caring for? This has nothing to do with government regulation and everything to do with being a responsible caregiver if you’re going to be involved with the care and well being of others as part of your career. I have family in the healthcare field too. All of them got flu shots – do they like it 100%, no but, it’s a condition of employment and if it keeps them and their patients from the flu, it’s completely worth it.

    • Darwy

      If the flu vaccine is part of the terms of your employment – no vaccine = no job.

      This nurse did work with cancer patients – folks who are nearly all immunocompromised.

      Wearing a mask just isn’t good enough – why should she be allowed to put those patients at risk?

      And as far as ‘not putting chemicals in your body’ I find it funny that you talk about Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and other vitamins… WHICH ARE ALL CHEMICALS.

  • Lindsey

    Taking a flu shot is a responsibility that many have due to the nature of their work. It is impossible to be “strong enough” to avoid exposure – no one is God. And while many survive the exposure and subsequent infection, around 10,000-30,000 Americans yearly are not so lucky. No one should have the right to increase the risks of those they are supposed to be caring for and helping back to health. The easy step of vaccination should be company policy for many places that deal with at risk populations.

  • Lindsey

    AACOG, and many other experts actually most recommend the influenza vaccine for pregnant woman, and at times of vaccine shortage, pregnant woman have priority. There is no reason to decline influenza vaccine based on pregnancy alone.

  • Marie

    She should have the right to do with her own body as she wishes. If they can make exceptions for religious purposes, then they should for health purposes as well. I know of many, many people who have never received a flu shot and have never come down with it. As for chemicals, do you know what chemicals are in flu shots? I believe avoiding the flu or other viruses boils down to good hygiene as a 24/7 practice.

    • Lindsey

      “I believe avoiding the flu or other viruses boils down to good hygiene as a 24/7 practice”

      If you believe this then your understanding had a basis in reality but is so over simplified that you are wrong. Many respiratory viruses, including influenza, are respiratory droplet contageous. This means that they pass through virus particles that float in the drops of humidity we all breath and cough, making them airborne for quite some time for an unsuspecting passerby to breath them in and replicate the virus in themselves and breath out copies as well, usually before they even know they are sick. Most respiratory viruses are most contageous in the few days BEFORE one begins to have symptoms of the illness itself, and some who who are contageous never feel symptoms at all.

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