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Nurse Fired For Refusing To Get Flu Shot

LANCASTER, Pa. (CBSNewYork) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the influenza virus is now widespread in 10 states, including New York and Pennsylvania – where a pregnant nurse is out of a job.

As CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, Dreonna Bretton, 29, was fired from her job at Lancaster General Hospital in central Pennsylvania because she refused to get the shot.

The CDC and virtually every major medical organization said the best way to prevent the flu and its potentially lethal complications is the flu shot. That especially goes for pregnant women.

But the question is whether a hospital can require its nurses to get flu shots as a condition of employment, as Lancaster General Hospital did.

Breton had worked as a nurse at the hospital since 2008, and was ordered by her employer earlier this fall to get the flu vaccine.

"I do research," Breton said. "I want to look into anything that is going into my body. Any pharmaceutical side effect -- we know that."

But Breton, the mother of a 19-month-old son, is three months pregnant with her second child. She has had two miscarriages in the past year, and was worried that the flu vaccine could complicate her pregnancy.

She offered to wear a mask, but refused to take the vaccine and was subsequently fired.

"It is frustrating to be forced to do something that you are not comfortable with," Breton said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urges pregnant women to receive a flu vaccine. It advises on its website: "Flu vaccine is an essential element of prenatal care, (and) no study to date has shown an adverse consequence of flu vaccine in pregnant women or their offspring."

Dr. William Schafner is a nationally known infectious disease expert.

"Not only does the flu vaccine offer protection to the pregnant woman," said Schafner, of Vanderbilt University, "but there is a bonus -- the pregnant woman can pass that some of that prevention onto her newborn baby."

Breton's former employer, Horizon Healthcare Services said in a statement: "Like our requirements for TB skin testing and MMR vaccination as a condition of employment, mandatory flu immunization protects our patients, employees, and community from getting this potentially serious infection."

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