Lancaster nurse fired after refusing influenza vaccine

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Lancaster-based Horizons Healthcare fired a nurse after she refused to have a flu vaccine. The company requires its employees to get flu shots to limit potential epidemics. The nurse offered to wear a mask while on duty, instead.

It’s a case that has yet to result in a lawsuit—but it could.

The nurse was pregnant after previously suffering three miscarriages, and worried that the vaccine could be dangerous for her baby. She could not cite specific research to back her fears, but said she simply didn’t want to take the risk.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the flu vaccine to pregnant women.  

Horizons Healthcare claimed that it offers waivers to taking the vaccine for religious or medical reasons. It simply didn’t feel the nurse’s medical reason was backed by research.

The nurse obtained notes from a midwife and a doctor backing her de­­cision not to get the vaccine. Neither could provide any evidence the vaccine would harm her or her unborn child, but did note she would suffer from anxiety if she had the shot.

The woman told news outlets that she does not plan to sue, but would like Horizons Healthcare to review its policy.

Note: The employer in this case was open to legitimate reasons for refusing the vaccine, but it stood its ground by requiring the waiver must be based on either sincerely held religious belief or sound science.

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