|Photo: Miller, Los Angeles|
Horizon Healthcare Service in Lancaster, Pennsylvania has fired a pregnant nurse who received a company mandated flu vaccine. Dreonna Breton was three months pregnant when she refused the vaccine, and after suffering two miscarriages in the past, did not want to take any chances with her pregnancy.
The company requires all workers to be vaccinated to protect patients and other employees from catching the flu. Horizon Healthcare Services stated: “Like our requirements for TB skin testing and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination as a condition of employment, mandatory flu immunization protects our patients, employees, and community from getting this potentially serious infection.”
“Not only does the flu shot offer some protection to the pregnant woman, but there is a bonus – the pregnant woman can pass some of that prevention into her newborn baby,” notes William Schafner, an infectious disease doctor at Vanderbilt University.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also advises all pregnant women be vaccinated against the flu, calling it an essential element of prenatal care. There have been no adverse consequences of flu vaccine in pregnant women or their offspring.
Reports on flu outbreaks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the week of December 21, 2013 say the flu is now widespread in Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
Flu activity is also picking up in Tennessee, the CDC report notes. They further state that 1,156 flu-associated hospitalizations have been confirmed since October 1st, but that many hospitalizations could be prevented by vaccination.
“Nationwide, seasonal flu causes an average of 250,000 hospitalizations and up to 36,000-49,000 deaths in a severe influenza season. Typically, flu season increases in January and peaks in February or early March,” states Anne Roche, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.