A pregnant, registered nurse from Pennsylvania is out of a job after refusing to get a flu-shot required by her employer.
Dreonna Breton, 29, said she was worried a flu vaccine could cause a miscarriage (she has already had two):
Breton says she became alarmed by notifications such as this, contained in the packaging of a popular flu vaccine: "Fluzone should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed." Similar statements accompany other brands. So do notifications that it's unknown whether flu vaccine can harm an unborn child. Breton says she's had two miscarriages in four pregnancies and refuses to take the chance.
"It would be a false statement to say the flu vaccine is known to be safe during pregnancy," Breton, who is three months pregnant, told PennLive. "œI 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."
Until she was terminated, Breton had been working for Horizon Healthcare Services, which does in-home services for patients. Horizon requires employees to get flu shots, as does its parent company Lancaster General.
Breton says she explained her flu shot reservations to her employer, and also provided a doctor's note which described her history of miscarriage. The doctor wrote, "In my view getting the flu shot would significantly and negatively impact her health because of the increased fear and anxiety it would create as well as the emotional impact it could cause if she does miscarry again."
Her employers, on the other hand, have a different take on the issue:
"œI would say she has a million times greater chance of of having a problem if she gets the disease rather than the vaccine," says Dr. Alan Peterson, the director of environmental and community medicine at Lancaster General Health.
Peterson says pregnancy changes the immune system, and a case of the flu can pose a severe threat to mother and unborn child. That's why organizations such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend flu shots for most pregnant women.
Sanofi Pasteur is the maker of Fluzone, the brand with the warning that originally raised Breton's alarm bells. An insert in the product says the impact on a pregnant woman is unknown. A spokesperson for the company said that was because results of clinical studies that used pregnant women were no™t part of the research when flu vaccines received government approval. The spokesperson said that is why they don't say the vaccine is safe for women.
Breton said that while she doesn't oppose all vaccines, she "struggled to find the science behind mandated flu vaccinations." She offered to wear a mask, and noted that such policies routinely allow for exemptions based on religious beliefs or other medical issues such as allergies.
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