A Pennsylvania mother of one child with a second on the way did what many pregnant women would do: she considered the well-being of her unborn child above other things and decided she didn’t want to get the mandatory flu shot required by her employer. As a result, she was fired.
Dreonna Breton has been a nurse within Lancaster General Hospital since 2008 and recently started at Horizon Healthcare Services, which is owned by the hospital. The hospital has a policy of mandatory flu shots for heath care employees but does allow approved exemptions in certain circumstances, according to The Patriot News.
Brenton told the newspaper she applied to her employer for such an exemption but was denied.
“It would be a false statement to say the flu vaccine is known to be safe during pregnancy,” the 29-year-old mother said. “I have lost my job, one that I love and am good at, because I chose to do what I believe is best for my baby.”
Breton did her research about the pros and cons of taking the flu shot and “struggled to find the science behind mandated flu vaccinations,” she told The Patriot News.
The flu shot that Breton’s employer required, Fluzone, even stated in detailed patient information that its “safety and effectiveness […] have not been established in pregnant women.” [Emphasis added]
“Fluzone Intradermal should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed,” the paper stated.
Breton was particularly concerned about doing anything to compromise her baby’s health because she had previously suffered two miscarriages.
But local doctors told The Patriot News avoiding the flu shot is not necessarily what’s best for the unborn child.
“I would say she has a million times greater chance of of having a problem if she gets the disease rather than the vaccine,” Dr. Alan Peterson with Lancaster General Health told the newspaper, noting that a pregnant woman’s immune system is more compromised and susceptible to the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a whole fact sheet on its website detailing its belief that the seasonal flu shot is safe for pregnant women and their unborn children.
But Breton is among the growing group of health care workers — pregnant or not — receiving push back from employers when they refuse mandatory flu shots. The flu shot is also not a guarantee that the recipient won’t get sick.
This report from WGBA-TV details the ongoing mandatory flu shot debate:
WGAL-TV reported the hospital saying 98 percent of its employees received the shot as requested. One of them was Beth Dougherty who is pregnant. She told WGAL her 3-year-old received the shot as well.
“[…] I don’t have any concerns,” Dougherty told the news station.
But Breton thinks she made the right decision for herself.
“I do believe I did the right thing, and the right outcome will happen,” she told WGAL.
Breton told the Daily Mail she is looking for a new job but “it is hard as a pregnant woman.”
“We just need to have faith that things will work themselves out,” she said, according to the U.K. newspaper.