The Tennessee Department of Health (DOH) plans to stop all minor vaccinations in the state.
The drastic move comes straight from health commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey, according to internal documents and emails sent by the Tennessee.
All vaccines – not just the COVID-19 vaccine – are included in the decision.
The DOH is taking the step under pressure from state Republican lawmakers to scrap vaccine efforts in the state and allegations that health officials are pressuring minors to get shots.
It comes just two days after the state’s top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, was fired after a fight over vaccinations teens against COVID-19.
The Tennessee Department of Health has cut all initiatives to vaccinate minors in the state after allegations that they attempted to undermine parental consent
Currently, any American age 12 or older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
But under the new guidelines outlined in a report Friday and repeated Monday in a massive email to staff, any information the Tennessee DOH disseminates about teen vaccination must be stripped of official logos.
Minors who have already received their first injection of a COVID-19 vaccine will also not receive postcards or other reminders to schedule and receive their second injection.
In addition, schools can no longer be used as vaccine clinics, even to give the vaccine to adults.
The department should also not contact teens at all to remind them to adhere to the recommended vaccination schedule, or to post information about vaccines aimed at teens.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43 percent of Tennessee residents have currently received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, trailing all but five U.S. states.
Coronavirus cases are heading in the wrong direction: Volunteer state saw a 520 percent increase in the past two weeks from 82 cases per day on June 30 to 508 cases per day on average on July 13.
More than 60 percent of the cases are also believed to be related to the highly transmissible Indian ‘Delta’ variant.
The move of the DOH will not affect the COVID-19 vaccination, but also injections for other conditions such as measles, mumps and tetanus.
‘This. Is. Insane. Does Tennessee really want children not to be vaccinated against measles, mumps or meningitis?’ Rep Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, said of the decision on Twitter.
It came just days after the state’s top vaccine official was fired.
Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization, was fired Monday for participating in efforts to vaccinate minors in the state.
She wrote a op-ed in the Tennessean describing the run-up to her firing.
“I will not sit still as our public health infrastructure is eroded during a pandemic,” she wrote.
The controversy began when she distributed a memo on May 10 informing vaccine providers that the Tennessee Supreme Court had ruled in Cardwell v Bechtol in 1987 that people over 14 could receive medical care without parental consent.
She was charged with attempting to undermine parental authority and was fired a month later.
dr. Lisa Piercey (pictured) denied allegations that the Tennessee Department of Health tried to undermine parental consent
“The Tennessee Department of Health’s mission is to ‘protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of the people of Tennessee,’ and to protect them from the deadliest infectious disease in more than 100 years IS our job,” she wrote.
“It’s the most important job we’ve had in recent history. Specifically, it was MY job to provide evidence-based education and access to vaccines so Tennessee residents could protect themselves from COVID-19. I’m fired now for doing just that.’
Last month, Tennessee Republicans tried to to resolve the entire state of DOH after allegations that they marketed the vaccine to children.
Republicans said photos on the department’s website showing a teen with a bandage on their shoulder was evidence that the agency was trying to undermine parental consent.
“Looks like there’s a mission here, an agenda here, to get kids vaccinated with or without parental consent,” said Sen. Kerry Roberts, a Republican.
Health Commissioner Piercey refuted the claims, saying only ten minors in the state had received the COVID vaccine without parental consent — and three were her own children.
“I think there’s a sense that we’re hiding in dark alleys and whispering to kids, ‘Hey, get vaccinated. We don’t. We don’t encourage that.’ said Piercey during a hearing.
“It’s a fee, and we think vaccination is the right thing to do for children, so we don’t want to ban it, if that’s something they want to do.”
The attempt to remove the department failed, though the DOH was ordered to scale back on promoting the vaccine to teens.