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Pregnant nurse: I was fired for refusing flu vaccine

By Allie Malloy, CNN
updated 6:40 PM EST, Sun December 29, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dreonna Breton is a pregnant nurse who was working in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • She says she was fired from her job when she rejected taking a flu vaccine
  • It's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized, employer says
  • Breton, who says she's had three miscarriages, fears vaccine could trigger another

(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.

This is an influenza virus particle, also known as a virion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virions are made up of an outer protein shell and an inner core of nucleic acid: in this case, eight single-stranded RNA segments. This is an influenza virus particle, also known as a virion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virions are made up of an outer protein shell and an inner core of nucleic acid: in this case, eight single-stranded RNA segments.
Flu under the microscope
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Photos: Flu under the microscope Photos: Flu under the microscope

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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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