On Monday, the state health department also abruptly fired Michelle Fiscus, who served as the state’s top vaccination official. Although her termination letter provided no details, Fiscus believed she was fired to appease state lawmakers, who were angered by efforts to vaccinate teens as young as 14 using a legal mechanism that removed the need for parental consent…
The Tennessee Department of Health will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but all diseases – amid pressure from Republican state lawmakers, according to an internal report and agency emails obtained by the Tennessean. If the health department must issue any information about vaccines, staff are instructed to strip the agency logo off the documents.
The health department will also stop all COVID-19 vaccine events on school property, despite holding at least one such event this month. The decisions to end vaccine outreach and school events come directly from Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, the internal report states.
Additionally, the health department will take steps to ensure it no longer sends postcards or other notices reminding teenagers to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccines. Postcards will still be sent to adults, but teens will be excluded from the mailing list so the postcards are not “potentially interpreted as solicitation to minors,” the report states.
These changes to Tennessee’s vaccination strategy, detailed in an COVID-19 report distributed to health department staff on Friday, then reiterated in a mass email on Monday, illustrate how the state government continues to dial back efforts to vaccinate minors against coronavirus. This state’s approach to vaccinations will not only lessen efforts to inoculate young people against coronavirus, it could also hamper the capacity to vaccinate adults and protect children from other infectious diseases.
And these changes will take effect just as the coronavirus pandemic shows new signs of spread in Tennessee. After months of declining infections, the average number of new cases per day has more than doubled in the past two weeks – from 177 to 418. The average test positivity rate has jumped from 2.2% to 5.4% in the same time period.
And from the same article: “If the health department must issue any information about vaccines, staff are instructed to strip the agency logo off the documents.“