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State of the flu: Pregnant nurse fired for refusing flu shot

January 3, 2014

    Hanna Jaquith and Paige Baschuk, Daily Briefing

    The flu season picked up over the holidays, making headlines across the country. Here's a roundup of what you should know about influenza from the last two weeks.

    • New York: Unvaccinated medical providers at regulated health care facilities are required to wear a mask under a new statewide regulation, officials announced last week. Nirav Shah, commissioner of the New York state Department of Health, said in a statement, "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against influenza, and it is important for individuals who come in contact with patients to be vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu" (UPI, 12/28).

    • North Carolina: Last week, Duke University Health System began restricting patient visitations out of concern of an increasing number of influenza infections throughout the area. Visitors to hospital or ambulatory surgery patients are being limited to immediate family or designated caregivers ages 18 and older, and may not show signs of fever, cough, or other flu-like symptoms (deBruyn, Triangle Business News, 12/30).

    State of the flu: One state sees spike in flu activity

    • Pennsylvania: A pregnant nurse who refused to get a flu shot for fear of miscarrying was fired from her job at a central Pennsylvania health care company, despite offering to wear a mask throughout the influenza season, the Associated Press reports. A company spokesperson says it's "unconscionable" for a health care worker not to be immunized, adding that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu (AP/Modern Healthcare, 12/28 [subscription required]).

    • South Dakota: Health officials say that two deaths in South Dakota this flu season can be attributed to the H1N1 virus—the same flu strain that was linked to 24 deaths in the state during the 2009-2010 epidemic. South Dakota State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger recommends residents to get vaccinated for the flu as this year's vaccine protects against the H1N1 strain (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/1).

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