Tennessee health department shut down vaccine events for teens after Republicans freaked out: leaked emails
Coronavirus vaccination in India - A medic worker administers a woman with a jab of the coronavirus vaccine at the Moti Lal Nehru Medical College during a vaccination campaign. - Prabhat Kumar Verma/ZUMA Wire/dpa

Leaked emails obtained by The Tennessean show that Tennessee's health department shut down vaccination events for teenagers after Republican lawmakers in the state threw a series of hissy fits.

Dr. Tim Jones, the department's chief medical officer, wrote to his staff members this week that the department should avoid trying to specifically target teenagers in vaccine promotions, and also advised them to end any "pop-up events" for adolescents.

Dr. Jill Obremsky, another leader in the department, followed up in a separate email to say staffers should still vaccinate teens who willingly come to them, but that they should also avoid creating promotional materials aimed "specifically at this group."

Shutting down teen-centered vaccination programs came weeks after Republican Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky held a public hearing in which he attacked the department for making fliers encouraging "impressionable" teens to get vaccinated.

"The Department of Health is targeting our youth," Cepicky said at the time. "When you have advertisements like this, with a young girl with a patch on her arm all smiling, we know how impressionable our young people are."

Vaccinating teenagers is seen as the next important step in ending the novel coronavirus pandemic, as the delta variant of the virus has been spreading rapidly thanks in large part to unvaccinated young adults.