Tennessee's top vaccine official has been fired amid a push by anti-vaccine activists in her state to stop the promotion of the COVID-19 vaccines to teenagers.
The Tennessean reports that Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, was dismissed on Monday by Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee without explanation after Republicans in the state legislature attacked her and other public health officials for a campaign to get young people vaccinated.
In a statement published by the Tennessee Holler, Fiscus ripped into Republicans for demonizing public health officials who have been trying to help keep people alive during a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.
"I am afraid for my state," she said. "I am angry for the amazing people of the Tennessee Department of Health who have been mistreated by an uneducated public and leaders who have only their own interests in mind."
Although she wasn't given an official explanation for her firing, Fiscus believes she was terminated because she did her job "to provide evidence-based education and vaccine access so that Tennesseans could protect themselves against COVID-19."
Tennessee's health department last week shut down its plans for teen-centric vaccination programs, 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."