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Pregnant Nurse Fired Over the Flu Shot

Pregnant nurse fired over refusing flu shot
Photograph by Getty Images

One Lancaster, Pennsylvania mom-to-be is speaking out over her recent firing, claiming that she was unfairly let go by her employer–and all because she feared getting a flu shot was unsafe for her baby.

"I'm a healthy person. I take care of my body," explained Dreonna Breton to CNN on Sunday. "For me, the potential risk was not worth it. I'm not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem."

Until recently, Breton worked at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster as a nurse. But when the facility issued a mandate stating that all employees be vaccinated for the flu, she hesitated and consulted her doctors. Breton says she questioned its safety, citing that so far, there haven't been enough studies done on the effects they have on pregnant women.

So armed with a letter from her OB and her personal doctor, Breton told her employer she wouldn't be getting the vaccine. Apparently, that didn't go over so well, and she was told that if she didn't get vaccinated by December 17, she would be fired. Breton protested, even offering to wear a mask at work–an option given to some employees who are exempt for religious reasons.

But they still wouldn't budge.

Talking later with CNN affiliate WPVI, Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson spoke plainly. He said it was "unconscionable" for a health care worker not to be immunized, and even more so if she's pregnant, since that ups the likelihood of contracting the flu.

The health care facility isn't alone in its stance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advises all health care professionals get vaccinated every year, and according to their website, getting the flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for your baby.

But Breton maintains that her personal decision should have been respected, and that firing her over it was not the answer.

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

In the meantime, the mom-to-be is preparing for her second baby, and doesn't plan to take any legal action. So what does she want by coming forward to share her story? Breton says she simply hopes it will cause the company to reconsider their policy for pregnant women, and reevaluate whether or not it's truly fair.

What do you think? Was Breton's employer justified in firing her?

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