Tennessee Department of Health responds to public concerns of vaccine access for children

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Updated: Jul. 15, 2021 at 3:28 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) issued a response on Thursday addressing the fallout and discussion surrounding the firing of Tennessee’s top vaccine expert earlier this week.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus said she was partly terminated from her role with TDH because of the department’s emphasis on seeing children be vaccinated against COVID-19.

It was revealed shortly after her firing that the health department intended to pause vaccine efforts at schools or where children would be the primary clientele.

TDH responded Thursday to the disruption of access to vaccines for children.

“While misinformation has been circulated regarding the status of these resources, parents who need information regarding routine childhood immunizations can find resources here. Parents seeking the COVID-19 vaccine for children 12+ can find additional information here.”

“There has been no disruption to the childhood immunization program or access to the COVID-19 vaccine while the department has evaluated annual marketing efforts intended for parents,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP.

Physicians and other health experts have responded the firing of Dr. Fiscus since Monday, saying the Department of Health’s decision to not hold any immunization events in or at schools will cost the state.

Health Commissioner Dr. Piercey responded to the concerns of children not being afforded the same access to vaccines.

“While we were concerned when childhood immunization rates temporarily dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are glad that we are seeing vaccination rates begin to rebound. We will continue supporting parents who are working to get their families’ immunization schedules back on track,” Piercey said.

The health department cited that the full immunization status of kindergarten students was at 95% according to the 2020-2021 census.

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