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Republicans Force Tennessee Health Department to Halt All Youth Vaccine Outreach, Not Just COVID

Republicans Force Tennessee Health Department to Halt All Youth Vaccine Outreach, Not Just COVID
Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

President Joe Biden's administration, as well as state leaders across the nation, are imploring the public to take the vaccines proven to be safe and effective against the virus that's killed over 600 thousand Americans.

Astonishingly, right-wing lawmakers and media personalities are actively working against that effort, promoting baseless conspiracy theories and disinformation to millions of conservatives, designed to dissuade them from potentially saving their own lives.

According to the Tennessean, which reviewed internal documents, that disinformation has taken root in Tennessee, where the state's Department of Health has halted all youth vaccine outreach programs for every disease—a response to pressure from GOP state lawmakers. The development comes as cases are tripling in the Volunteer State.

The Department also won't send out reminders for half-vaccinated teens to receive their second dose.

The Tennessean also reports that Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state's top vaccination official, after she faced harsh criticism from state Republicans for her outreach program, including a legal pathway for vaccinating teenagers above the age of 14 without parental consent.

Fiscus blamed this criticism as the impetus for her removal:

"It was my job to provide evidence-based education and vaccine access so that Tennesseans could protect themselves against COVID-19. I have now been terminated for doing exactly that."

It was the latest instance of the right's continued bulwark against the national effort to obliterate a pandemic that's upended daily life in the United States for over a year.

People were horrified to see it.

They're warning that the decision will have devastating impacts.

Tennessee ranks 44th in the nation for vaccination rates.