A pregnant ultrasound technician in Long Island, New York, said that she was discharged from her position at NYU Winthrop Hospital for refusing to receive a flu shot.
WCBS-TV on Tuesday reported that the woman, Allison Labarbera, who is five months pregnant, was told by two doctors that she should not receive the flu shot. Taking the physicians’ orders seriously, Labarbera said she filed an exemption with the hospital to get around the flu shot requirement, but instead of approving it, the hospital reportedly fired her.
“The two notes that I used said there wasn’t sufficient research for zero side effects on pregnant women, which is true. I mean, it basically says that on the box and the CDC website: pregnant women should consult their health care practitioners,” Labarbera told WCBS-AM’s Sophia Hall. “I did.”
“It just feels like such a violation of rights,” Labarbera told News 12 Long Island. “My No. 1 priority is my baby, and I won’t be bullied into something I don’t believe in.”
A hospital spokesperson provided a lengthy statement to WCBS explaining their policy on employee flu shots, which also noted that Labarbera failed to provide expanded documentation for her exemption request when asked.
“NYU Winthrop Hospital established the mandatory vaccination program many months ago as a condition of employment to protect the health and well-being of not only our patients but our employees,” a portion of the statement read. “Every employee, including this one, was notified and given the opportunity to apply for a valid medical or religious exemption. This employee initially provided inadequate documentation. We requested additional documentation. Instead, we received the exact same documentation. She was told not to return to work unless she provided additional documentation from a doctor. She chose not to.”
The statement added that “pregnancy alone” was not “deemed a valid basis for an exemption” and noted that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women — including pregnant women who are “at increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza” — receive the flu shot.
“NYU Winthrop Hospital believes that, as healthcare workers, every one of our employees has a moral obligation to protect the health and safety of our patients and our fellow employees,” the statement continued. “Mandatory flu vaccination is a commitment to that responsibility.”