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      Springfield nurse fired for refusing to wear mask

      With the season in full swing, a nurse at Springfield's Cox South hospital is out of a job after she refused to wear a surgical mask because she did not get a flu shot.

      Carla Brock was fired Monday after 11 years at the hospital.

      The Springfield News-Leader reported the hospital requires employees to wear the masks if they have not been vaccinated against the flu.

      CoxSouth Hospital isn't alone in their mandate.

      In July 2011, SSM Health Care adopted the policy, mandating their employees to get vaccinated.

      The healthcare giant employs 30-thousand people in multiple states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and here in Missouri.

      St. Mary's Health Center is a member of SSM Healthcare and last year's flu season was the first time their staff was told to roll up their sleeves.

      SSM said the policy was put into place to create a safer environment for patients and a healthier work force.

      If employees forgo the shot they are required to wear a mask.

      Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City also has the mandate in place.

      The medical center has been following the flu shot policy for about 4 years.

      A spokeswoman for Capital Region Medical Center said the policy is not only in place to help protect their staff but also their patients.

      A CoxSouth Hospital spokeswoman said those masks can prevent the flu from being spread through the upper respiratory system.

      But Brock said she believes the mask requirement is meant to punish those who refuse to be vaccinated.

      Brock received a religious exemption from the flu shot.

      She is a holistic nurse who said she has spiritual and religious reasons to not want the toxins from a flu shot in her body.

      Health officials say this flu season is shaping up to be one of the more severe in recent years.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Missouri is one of 29 states which reported high numbers of people with flu-like symptoms.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this story.)