SPRINGFIELD | A Springfield nurse has been fired for refusing to wear a surgical mask because she didn't get a flu shot, and she says the requirement is intended as a punishment.
Carla Brock, a nurse at Cox House South Hospital for 11 years, said she was fired Monday for violating the hospital policy, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
"It's obviously punitive," she said. "It's obviously coercive."
Cox South Hospital this year began requiring employees to wear surgical masks if they hadn't been vaccinated against the flu.
Stacy Fender, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said she couldn't comment on personnel matters, but said masks are required for those who don't get vaccinated because they can prevent the spread of flu.
"The logic behind it is that you can spread the flu before you have symptoms of it," Fender said. "The way you spread the flu is through your upper respiratory system, so the mask contains that."
She said that 99 percent of CoxHealth's employees are vaccinated.
"Our policy is similar to hundreds if not thousands of health systems across the country," she said. "Our first priority has to be the patients."
Brock, who received a religious exemption from getting the flu shot, said she believes the mask requirement is meant to punish those who refuse to be vaccinated. Brock is a board-certified holistic nurse and said she has "spiritual and religious reasons to not have those toxins" from a flu shot in her body.
Brock also believes there is no evidence that the mask policy is effective and said hospital visitors don't have to wear them.
"If that's the case, Cox should have every single person who walks in the door wear a mask," she said.
Brock, who also teaches holistic health classes, including one called "The Danger of Vaccine," said she is unsure if she'll take legal action.
"If I have legal rights, I want to exercise them," she said. "I want to at least consider it."