Tennessee's health department is halting its outreach to minors to get vaccinated against all diseases, not just COVID-19.
Michelle Fiscus, former vaccine chief with the Tennessee Department of Health, wrote a memo explaining teenagers ages 14-17 can obtain COVID-19 vaccines without their parents' approval. After that, she said she was dismissed from her job, and the agency halted outreach to children regarding vaccines against all diseases, according to records obtained by the Tennessean.
"Our leadership has been toxic to work under, and morale within the department is poor ... and what really concerns me is that, in order to appease the legislators that were upset about this memo, our leadership in the Department of Health has instructed the Department of Health to no longer do outreach around immunizations for children of any kind," Fiscus told CNN.
Fiscus said she was the 25th of 64 state and territorial immunization program directors to leave their position during the pandemic, representing nearly 40% of the top state-level immunization leaders in the United States.
"I was told that I should have been more 'politically aware' and that I 'poked the bear' when I sent a memo to medical providers clarifying a 34 year old Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. I am not a political operative, I am a physician who was, until today, charged with protecting the people of Tennessee, including its children, against preventable diseases like COVID-19," Fiscus wrote in a Tennessean op-ed on Monday. "I have been terminated for doing my job because some of our politicians have bought into the anti-vaccine misinformation campaign rather than taking the time to speak with the medical experts. They believe what they choose to believe rather than what is factual and evidence-based. And it is the people of Tennessee who will suffer the consequences of the actions of the very people they put into power."
Representatives for the Tennessee Department of Health did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.
After President Joe Biden fell short of his July 4 COVID-19 vaccination goal, the White House announced its intent to ramp up its nationwide vaccination campaign, particularly among young people whose comparably sluggish vaccination rates contributed to Biden missing the intended benchmark.
"We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring … Now, we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes door to door, literally knocking on doors, to get help for the remaining people protected from the virus," Biden said last week.
Less than half the U.S. population (48%) is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data reported by the New York Times. That figure jumps substantially among the adult population, with 59% of those aged 18 and older fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Vaccine hesitancy remains prevalent among many southern states, and Tennessee currently ranks eighth in the nation among states with the lowest percentages of fully vaccinated residents.
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Original Author: Carly Roman
Original Location: Tennessee health department halting vaccine outreach to minors