Pregnant Nurse Fired For Refusing Flu Shot
After suffering through three miscarriages, 29-year-old Dreonna Breton of Pennsylvania decided to take extra precautions when she got pregnant this time around. Breton was a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot under the advisement of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But Breton was fired when she told her employers she wouldn't get the vaccine. She was concerned about the limited amount of research and studies on the effects the flu shot has on pregnant women. Breton didn’t want an added health risk for her baby — and as a result, she's now unemployed.
"I'm a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it," Breton told CNN. "I'm not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem."
Alan Peterson, a spokesman for Horizons Healthcare Services, told WPVI News that “it's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.”
According to the CDC, the best kind of protection for pregnant women and the children they’re carrying is the flu shot. Despite the organization’s suggestion, Breton still didn’t feel comfortable enough getting the shot.
"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," she said.
A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the flu vaccine actually works better for women than for their male counterparts. The study measured how 34 women and 53 men of all different ages responded to receiving the flu vaccine. Apparently, women had increased antibody responses as well as higher inflammation cytokine counts (molecules that help guide cells in their immune response) after receiving the flu shot.
“[Women have a] more robust response to antigenic challenges such as infection and vaccination," study authors wrote.
Still, that wasn't research conducted on pregnant women. Deton decided to stand her ground: she offered to wear a face mask around the hospital instead of getting the vaccine, but her company denied the alternative option and fired her altogether.
USA Today reports that even though Breton says she doesn't want to sue her former place of employment, she does want them to look over their policy.