LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A pregnant woman on Long Island was fired after refusing to get a flu shot.

Allison LaBarbera, of Long Beach, is five months pregnant. The vascular ultrasound technician says it’s sad and disturbing how NYU Winthrop Hospital treated her.

“I don’t think it’s right,” she said. “My choice, my body.”

The hospital requires the vaccine in order to protect vulnerable patients.

LaBarbera says she was fine with getting the flu shot over the years, until she became pregnant. She told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall she was told not to receive the vaccine by two doctors.

“This America. This is the land of second opinions,” she said.

“The two notes that I used said there wasn’t sufficient research for zero side effects on pregnant women, which is true,” she said. “I mean, it basically says that on the box and the CDC website: pregnant women should consult their health care practitioners. I did.” 

LaBarbera applied for a medical/religious exemption request signed by her midwife and even offered to wear a mask and gown to protect patients.

“I have been on this holistic kind of trip with this pregnancy and have been really trying to take care of my body as best as I possibly can,” she said. “And injecting the flu shot into my body is just not something that I am interested in.”

The hospital says pregnancy alone is not a valid basis for exemption and points to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommendation that all pregnant women receive the vaccine — they’re at increased risk of serious illness or death from the flu.

But civil rights attorney Rick Ostrove calls the hospital’s decision discriminatory.

“They also have an obligation to engage in an interactive process to find an acceptable accommodation. For example, wearing a mask, a gown or other sanitation procedures might have satisfied all the employer’s concerns.”

“What about visitors who come in? What about the reps who come in? What about the independent contractors? Are they sure all those people are vaccinated?” Labarbera asked.

The hospital says it believes its healthcare workers have a moral obligation to protect the health and safety of its patients and employees.

“I believe that if you threaten people with their paychecks and benefits, you can probably get them to do anything. But I don’t believe in that. I think that’s bullying people into doing things they are not comfortable with.”

NYU Winthrop Hospital says it’s the only hospital on Long Island that has made it mandatory for employees to get the flu shot.

Find the hospital’s full statement below:

“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. 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 read in part.

“Based on clear national clinical standards, pregnancy alone was not deemed a valid basis for an exemption. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) continues to recommend that all women receive the influenza vaccine, including pregnant women, who are at increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza. This recommendation applies in any trimester. Moreover, the ACOG states that maternal vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect newborns because the vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months,” the statement continued. “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. Mandatory flu vaccination is a commitment to that responsibility.”

Comments (17)
  1. I haven’t had a flu shot in 20 years. Haven’t had a cold or a flu in 20 years either.

  2. Ralph Munoz says:

    That hospital was not affiliated with NYU until NYU dropped out of the league and decided to merge with Winthrop and now they are implementing their “policies” just like they do in their main building in Manhattan. I hope this fight gets taken to a higher level because no one should be forced to put ANYTHING into their bodies if they choose not too. This is more than just a “flu shot” controversy, and the awareness of this issue must be spread.

  3. James Mahu says:

    The flu shot can cause devastating, even life-threatening side effects for some.
    In some cases, the flu shot leads to Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which has no known cure. GBS causes severe symptoms in you like:
    • Weakness in your legs and upper body
    • A feeling that pins and needles are stabbing your extremities
    • Severe pain
    • Difficulty walking
    • High blood pressure
    • Increased heart rate
    • Total paralysis
    • Death
    Most people who get GBS do fully recover within a year. But around 5% never fully recover, is it really worth it? Since the virus is always mutating it never really works.

  4. mrmefi says:

    We are all doomed….

  5. Greg Walker says:

    The woman is misinformed. The flu vaccine is a killed vaccine. It cannot harm the baby. However, if she contracted the flu while pregnant, there could be severe damages to the infant-not likely, but possible. I don’t know any OBGYN who would advise against a flu shot for a pregnant woman.

    1. Hao De says:

      everything to do with patient protection.

      no different than if the “tech” carries aids, ebola, hepatitis, cholera and other diseases.

      or does the “tech’s” freedom exceed that of the patients to live ?

    2. Ann Williams says:

      The official CDC website claims that thimerosal (mercury) is still used in flu shots. Check it yourself if you don’t believe it. The mercury and other vaccine preservatives are much concerning than a dead flu virus.

  6. This is a MONEY matter and has nothing at all to do with patient or employee safety. In fact, the “studies” and “evidence” used to support the notion of vaccinating hospital employees were designed and financed by the pharmaceutical industry, then saw those with ‘bad’ conclusions mothballed out of publication. Where is the plaintiff’s bar?…the class action here is enormous………………!

  7. This is going to cost them. Pretty much every other system allows the worker to wear a mask. I’m an RN, so I might kinda be in the know….

  8. With this year’s flu vaccine being found to be only 10% effective, at best, this pregnant woman made a wise choice for her and her baby’s health.

  9. harris9513 says:

    A MORAL obligation…these hospital SOB’s need some serious whip lashing — attacking a woman and her unborn baby for trying to protect it.

  10. Jay Barbieri says:

    What happened to all of that ‘accommodation’ businesses are supposed to provide?

  11. Dave Thrush says:

    “My Body My choice” unless you’re a pregnant Hospital worker, then it’s not your body and your choice….

  12. Shoot that pregnant lady up at least once, then make sure that baby gets all the recommended jabs before it leaves the hospital. Be sure to bring the child back for the 2 dozen or so shots the CDC recommends before age three. Save a little time and give 5 vaccines at once and get all the boosters.If the kid doesn’t display an adverse reaction right away, he or she will likely develop and autoimmune condition by age six, possibly some form of cancer later in life, all of which will require expensive treatments. Nobody will draw the correlation to all the toxins they were loaded up on in their formative years. They will never know what hit them.

  13. Flu only protect against 10 to 15 pct of flu viruses out there. There is no herd immunity due to know one is immune to all flues. All Flu shots do is slowly causing the rarer flu to become more and more common. Therefore, as in last year you saw a kitten that actually had a transferable flu to human (extremely rare). Until the flu shot can create total immunity it should be stopped, it will create an ultra rare and ultra deadly flu very very soon. Genetic shift of the Influenza virus will man kinds undoing. Virologists need to be more vocal about this.

  14. Greg Thumm says:

    They have already admitted that this year’s flu shot does not protect against this year’s flu strain !

  15. I retired from my job November 3 2017 from a hospital I worked for making the flu shot mandatory.
    It is my belief the only reason the flu shot is becoming mandatory because if hospitals are 90 percent compliant they received a check from he Federal Government. Theses institutions do no care about the hospital worker or the patients. Its pure profit. I also believe its against ones Human Rights. The other issue I have with the flu shot is that this year it is only 10 percent effective. Basically each year its a crap shoot. I applaud he young mother for refusing it was a difficult decision financially as well.

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