The announcement got here throughout a gathering of the identical legislative panel that final month grilled Division of Well being officers — amongst them, then-vaccine chief Michelle Fiscus. The state has since terminated Fiscus in what she contends was a transfer to appease some GOP lawmakers who fumed over state outreach for COVID-19 vaccinations to minors. Some even threatened to dissolve the Well being Division.
Sen. Kerry Roberts and Rep. John Ragan, GOP co-chairs of the Joint Authorities Operations Committee, mentioned in an announcement learn at Wednesday’s assembly that that they had met with Well being Commissioner Lisa Piercey and a member of Republican Gov. Invoice Lee’s workplace. A spokesperson for the Division of Well being didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark concerning the dialogue.
In line with the lawmakers, each administration officers confirmed throughout that assembly that it’s not the coverage of the Division of Well being, Division of Training or the 89 county well being departments below the state’s direct management to present the COVID-19 vaccine to youngsters with out parental consent, Roberts learn within the assertion. Six bigger counties, similar to Nashville and Memphis’ Shelby County, are run independently.
The lawmakers didn’t say the change would restrict medical suppliers outdoors the federal government.
Roberts additionally mentioned Piercey detailed steps taken “to cease any advertising directed at minors.”
Roberts and Ragan additionally sought to defend Republicans within the Legislature. They mentioned they haven’t discouraged Tennesseans from being vaccinated or having their youngsters vaccinated by opposing COVID-19 pictures for minors with out parental consent and criticizing the state’s advertising outreach on childhood vaccines. They declare the outreach focused youngsters, not dad and mom.
“Deciphering these two issues as being anti-vaxxers is intellectually dishonest, it’s lazy and it’s flawed,” Roberts mentioned within the assertion.
At problem is a memo despatched by Fiscus about Tennessee’s Mature Minor Doctrine, which traces again to a 1987 state Supreme Courtroom case and permits suppliers to vaccinate youngsters 14 and up with no dad or mum’s consent.
A Division of Well being official’s suggestion to fireside Fiscus claims she despatched round “her personal interpretation” of the doctrine. It additionally alleged deficiencies in her management, citing points with employees.
Fiscus has mentioned the letter she despatched suppliers was verbatim from paperwork supplied by the division’s chief authorized counsel. She supplied e mail information to again up the assertion. She additionally issued a point-by-point rebuttal to the alleged fire-able offenses and distributed years of constructive efficiency opinions from her supervisor, together with as early as final month when she was praised for her “robust management.”
Tennessee is considered one of 5 states the place suppliers have discretion to resolve if a minor is mature sufficient to consent to vaccination with no dad or mum, in line with the Kaiser Household Basis, which mentioned 41 different states require parental consent and 5 others have a self-consent age below 18.
On the June listening to, Piercey mentioned she knew of solely eight occasions this yr when Tennessee’s doctrine was invoked, and three had been for her personal youngsters, who obtained vaccines whereas she was at work.
Roberts and Ragan additionally blasted “anybody who’s bullying, bribing, shaming, coercing or cajoling a person into taking the vaccine.”
The 2 lawmakers listed what they referred to as “unacceptable habits,” although with out offering proof that something like these situations really occurred — demanding soccer gamers put on masks and check weekly at their very own expense till they’re vaccinated; suspending marching band members from the halftime present except they get vaccinated; segregating vaccinated and unvaccinated youngsters at school; or a county well being division paying or incentivizing dad and mom to vaccinate youngsters.
Roberts didn’t permit dialogue on the subject Wednesday, regardless of having Democrats on the panel who’ve opposed the state’s route on vaccines and a handful of Fiscus’ supporters within the viewers. Piercey was unable to attend the assembly as a consequence of a beforehand deliberate journey along with her household, a spokesperson mentioned.
Talking to reporters, Rep. Vincent Dixie, the Democratic Caucus chairman, blasted Republican colleagues for closing off dialogue and mentioned they had been utilizing “figments of creativeness” as examples. He mentioned the strategies that the Republicans decried had been those they used in opposition to Fiscus.
“The identical ways that Sen. Roberts mentioned about bullying, cajoling, ridiculing folks, they used them in opposition to Dr. Piercey and Dr. Fiscus,” Dixie mentioned.
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