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Tennessee will stop reaching out to minors about vaccines, including COVID-19 and the flu

Tennessee will stop outreach for children to get vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine

Jennifer Simon, an elementary school speech language pathologist, at her desk in Nashville, Tenn.
Jennifer Simon, an elementary school speech language pathologist, sits at her desk in her home Feb. 25, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. The Tennessee Department of Health will stop doing outreach to minors about the importance of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot, The Nashville Tennessean reports.
Mark Humphrey, Associated Press

The Tennessee Department of Health will stop doing outreach to minors about the importance of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot, The Nashville Tennessean reports.

What is Tennessee doing about vaccines?

The report comes after the Nashville Tennessean obtained an internal report and emails from the agency, which reportedly instructed staff to remove the department’s health logos from informational documents about vaccines.

  • Moreover, the department will stop all COVID-19 vaccine events happening on school properties.
  • The health department will also stop sending “postcards or other notices reminding teenagers to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccines,” The Nashville Tennessean reports.
  • Instead, postcards will be sent to adults. Teenagers will no longer receive the postcards because the department does not want it to seem like the department is soliciting the material to minors. So parents may receive the information, but the children won’t get it specifically.

Why did Tennessee decide to change its policy?

Per The New York Times, the change comes as there’s been increased pressure from Tennessee Republican lawmakers to limit outreach to minors about the COVID-19 vaccine.

In fact, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the top immunization leader in Tennessee, said she was fired because of “pushback among Republican lawmakers in the state, who have complained that the Tennessee Department of Health had gone too far in its efforts to raise awareness of the shot among young people,” according to The New York Times.

  • “It’s just a huge symptom of just how toxic the whole political landscape has become,” Fiscus told The New York Times. “This virus is apolitical — it doesn’t care who you are or where you live or which president you preferred.” Still, she added, “It’s just been a very difficult thing for us to overcome.”

Why this could be a problem

According to CNN, the state has been “lagging in vaccinations against COVID-19, over parental consent for vaccinations.”

The move by the health department will now limit the amount of outreach in the state to young people, adding to the lag and outreach issues.