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Pregnant Nurse Concerned About Miscarriage Fired for Refusing to Get a Flu Shot

By Monica Bielanko |

fluThe US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly advises all pregnant women to get the flu shot.

That’s because, according to their site, “Flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu as well as hospitalizations and even death. Pregnant woman with flu also have a greater chance for serious problems for their unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery.”

Nonetheless, it seems to me that getting a flu shot should be a personal choice and should be left up to the individual, not mandated by an employer. And yet, a 29-year-old Pennsylvania woman was fired for choosing not to get a flu shot.

Dreonna Breton is aware of the CDC recommendations but says she had read some research on how the vaccine can negatively affect pregnant women. After suffering three miscarriages, Breton says she wasn’t taking any chances. “For me, the potential risk was not worth it… I’m not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem,” she told CNN.

Because her employers at Horizons Healthcare Services told employees the shot was mandatory, Breton was given a December 17th deadline to get the shot or lose her job. Breton submitted letters from her midwife and primary care doctors backing her choice, with her doctor telling the company her health would be damaged by the flu shot because of the anxiety it would cause.

Still, even though the company gives exemptions for religious or medical reasons they chose to fire Breton. 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.”

I’m not sure I understand the rationale. The company doesn’t mind risking patients’ lives if someone has a religious reason but a pregnant woman worried about her child and a possible fourth miscarriage can’t be taken into consideration, even if she volunteered to wear a mask, as Breton did? No corporation should be able to dictate what someone should have done to their body.

What do you think? Should Breton be required to get the flu shot to keep her job? Does the fact that she is a health care worker play into your decision?

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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “Pregnant Nurse Concerned About Miscarriage Fired for Refusing to Get a Flu Shot

  1. Kelly says:

    I refuse the flu shot every year. I am a nurse, asthmatic, & mother of four. I have cared for hundreds of flu positive patients and my own children with flu and have never contracted the flu. The only incidence of illness I have ever experienced was as a result of having the flu vaccine. Nurses are required to work with patients with communicable diseases on a daily basis, but have no say in what they expose themselves to? I will never allow anyone to force me to take such a vaccination, I would sue.

  2. Lesley says:

    There are better options than firing this woman. My dad is a doctor, and while his company didn’t require everyone to get a flu shot, they strongly recommended it. Everyone who got one received a sticker to place on their badge. At a certain date (probably Dec 17th), anyone without the sticker had to wear a face mask. It provided an option for those people who chose not to get vaccinated to still work but keep a safe environment. For the record, I am pro-vaccine, but I don’t think it should be forced upon people who have genuine reasons not to get one.

  3. Bob says:

    Monica: Do you have the link to the full WPVI story? I’d like to see if that company spokesman said anything else about the situation.


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