On Tuesday, the editorial board of The Tennessean scorched the Tennessee Department of Health for firing Michelle Fiscus, a top public health official, for doing too much to promote COVID-19 vaccination.
"Fiscus was terminated as TDOH's medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs because she apparently was trying too hard to get every Tennessean to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," the editorial began. "That's absurd and dangerous."
The editorial then went on to document how Fiscus's firing was part of a broader effort within the party to appeal to anti-vaccination activists.
"In recent weeks, lawmakers objected to the health department's marketing focused on getting qualified children vaccinated," the editors wrote. "Many of these lawmakers downplayed COVID-19 for over a year even as 12,500 of their fellow citizens died from the virus. They threatened to abolish the health department — during a pandemic. Their bluster endangers the state."
This comes as Tennessee also moves to halt all adolescent vaccine outreach — not just for COVID-19, but even for regular childhood vaccines.
"Tennessee is at the bottom of states in vaccinations and the highly transmissible Delta variant is leading to rising infection. Remember: 99% of the people who are dying from COVID-19 did not get vaccinated," noted the board. "Fiscus previously warned of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation in a guest opinion during a measles outbreak in 2019. 'Vaccinations work only when given before exposure to a disease,' she wrote. 'Choosing not to vaccinate isn't a safer choice. It's a choice that welcomes disease, sickness and sometimes death.'"
"Her words were prescient for the COVID-19 pandemic," concluded the board. "Unfortunately, her advocacy cost Fiscus her job this time."
You can read more here.