Dr. Michelle Fiscus who oversaw the vaccination program in Tennessee against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases was fired for following state law. She ran into politicians who believed disinformation about vaccines. After her termination Tennessee halted all vaccinations for adolescents. This includes diseases like flu, measles, mumps, and other infectious disease. The Center for Inquiry which is tied to Richard Dawkins got involved in pushing back, defending science, and calling for the reinstatement of Dr. Michelle Fiscus.
“I am not a political operative, I am a physician who was, until today, charged with protecting the people of Tennessee … against preventable diseases.”
Dr, Michelle Fiscus
Center for Inquiry at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C.
Two days ago the progress of conspiracy theories in the United States reached a disturbing new height. So this blog learned of it and found it troubling. And yet the Center For Inquiry, which is Richard Dawkins organizations is stepping into the gap to advocate and call for vaccination and science to be trusted, and calling for Dr. Michelle Fiscus to be reinstated.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus Is Fired for Following State Laws on Vaccination and All Vaccination Efforts for Adolescents are Halted
The top vaccine official for the state of Tennessee was fired for following a law about vaccination and after an argument about it. Dr. Michelle Fiscus is a pediatrician who ran vaccination efforts in Tennessee for two years and was responsible for implementation. What happened is that she shared a memo that allowed for teenagers to request vaccination if they were between the ages of 14 and 17 without consent. This policy is based off a Tennessee Supreme Court decision in 1987 that stated that if an adolescent is mature enough and act responsibly they do not consent. Dr. Fiscus prepared a memo after following the Tennessee Department of Health’s General Counsel. Members of the Tennessee legislature which bought into disinformation criticized Dr. Fiscus. Some called for the Tennessee Department of Health to be dismantled. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee appeared to be the one who fired Dr. Fiscus. Tennessee press who tried to question the governor on the firing refused to respect the press or answer questions on the situation. This happens while a surge in the Delta variant is increasing in Tennessee, which is also toward the bottom of all states when it comes to vaccination. When fired Dr. Fiscus wrote a scathing response expressing her concern about the politicization of public health.
“There is a fundamental lack of the ability to discern credible information in the state of Tennessee amongst our leaders as well. They don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between a Facebook meme and a peer-reviewed scientific journal publication. And until we get back to teaching critical thinking skills, it’s going to be really hard to defeat this,” warned Fiscus. “Vaccine hesitant individuals are people…open to talking about the facts. If for me to share the information that I have, and to take that and listen to it and look at people like myself as experts in the field.”
After Dr. Fiscus’s removal the Tennessee Department of Health stopped all vaccination outreach for infectious disease for adolescents. That includes such diseases as measles, mumps, rubella, flu, HPV among others. If you want to read some press on this issue please look at the following articles below.
- NPR, “She Says She Was Fired For Saying That Teens Don’t Need Parental Consent For Vaccines.”
- NBC News, “Top Tennessee health official says she was fired after efforts to get teens vaccinated.”
- Market Watch, “Ex-Tennessee vaccination official says her firing put politics over health.”
- The Middletown Press, “Records reveal Tennessee’s claims for firing vaccine leader.”
- CNN, “Tennessee’s vaccine manager says she’s worried for her state after she was fired.”
- CNN, “Tennessee is halting outreach on all vaccines for adolescents, including for Covid-19.”
- Yahoo News, “Fired Tennessee vaccine official got glowing reviews before being terminated.”
- WKRN, “Fired Tennessee vaccine official fears ‘people will not pay attention to common sense, medical science’ after state halts vaccination messaging.”
Center for Inquiry Reacts to Tennessee Halting Vaccination Outreach
On July 13, 3021 the Center for Inquiry released a statement and condemned the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus. In the process the Center for Inquiry stated that vaccine hostility is leading to lives being lost in the pandemic. Here is part of what has ben said.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus, medical director for the state of Tennessee’s Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization program, was fired this week for doing her job. The Center for Inquiry is demanding that she be reinstated, and for the government of Tennessee to prioritize the health and safety of its people over scoring political points with anti-vaccine misinformation.
As reported by The Tennessean, Dr. Fiscus, a practicing pediatrician before her time in government, had written a memo to medical professionals reminding them that, according to Tennessee law, mature minors between the ages of 14 and 18 are eligible to consent to vaccinations against COVID-19, without needing permission from parents or guardians. Conservative politicians in the state found Dr. Fiscus’s efforts to protect young Tennesseans from a terrible disease unacceptable, leading to her being forced out of her position.
In a statement following her termination, Dr. Fiscus revealed that this anti-vaccination zealotry within state government extended well beyond the issue of whether mature minors can consent to receiving vaccines. The leadership of the Tennessee Department of Health was “halting ALL vaccination outreach for children,” she wrote. “Not just COVID-19 vaccine outreach for teens, but ALL communications around vaccines of any kind,” including messaging around measles, HPV, or reminders for teens to get their second COVID-19 vaccine doses.
“Tennessee’s irrational hostility toward vaccines by government officials who should know better is mind-boggling, and it’s costing lives,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic, and they are the only way to prevent a litany of other diseases that once ravaged populations. Dr. Fiscus was fired not for taking some radical position, but for encouraging doctors to keep their patients safe according to the law in Tennessee that allows mature minors to give consent for vaccines. We demand her reinstatement.”
As we state in our letter to Tennessee Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey and Gov. Bill Lee, we implore them not to treat this situation as a political battle, and instead look to the health and safety of all Tennesseans and all Americans. We demand that Dr. Fiscus be returned to her position, “and those seeking to spread the lies and misinformation about this life-saving medical intervention must, instead, be exposed as the charlatans that they are.”
The statement on the website can be access in, “CFI Condemns Tenn. Vaccine Official’s Firing; Anti-Vaccine Hostility is Costing Lives.”
The Center for Inquiry’s legal director then sent a letter to Gove Lee of Tennessee and Commissioner Lisa Piercey of the Tennessee Department of Health. Here is how the Center for Inquiry ends their letter by calling for Dr. Fiscus to be reinstated.
As you well know, vaccines work. The covid vaccines work. We implore you to stop treating this
situation as a political battle, and instead look to the health and safety of all Tennesseans and all
Americans. Dr. Fiscus was fired for doing her job, trying to get as many Tennesseans as possible
vaccinated. She must be allowed to return to her position and her work, and those seeking to spread
the lies and misinformation about this life-saving medical intervention must, instead, be exposed
as the charlatans that they are
You can read the entire letter in, CFITennesseeFiscus
This Blog Encourages Vaccination and Disinformation Needs to be Combatted
This afternoon the Surgeon General of the United States issued an advisory calling health misinformation an “urgent threat.” Vivek Murthy said the following, “Health misinformation is an urgent threat to public health,” as, “It can cause confusion, sow distrust, and undermine public health efforts, including our ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Surgeon General cited that 67% of those unvaccinated bought into misinformation, according to a study from Kaiser. The United States needs to step up and address disinformation. That in a way is what this post is about. Playing my part in correcting disinformation which is pervasive on the internet. This blog appreciates the Center for Inquiry for getting involved in this situation and hopes they will do more. If necessary maybe legal action can help address some of these issues and reveal transparency and motive for Dr. Fiscus’ firing. The fact of the matter is that we are going to have a resurgence of infectious disease. We’re dealing with CVID-19 right now. We are also at risk of having outbreaks for measles, mumps, and so many other infectious diseases. The conquering of polio by Jonas Salk was a medical marvel on the 20th century. Children’s lives were saved by Salk’s vaccines. There were children who went into iron lungs for the reminder of their life because they were polarized and could not breath. Why the hell would anyone want to go back to those days? Who wants to see outbreak of measles in the modern United States. Come on, that’s something you see in a failed state like Pakistan. It is for this reason this blog admires and respects the Center for Inquiry and calls on them to stay in the fight against disinformation. The beautiful aspect of atheism is that they take science very seriously. And that in itself is encouraging. If you read this post and you’re debating vaccination. Get vaccinated. Many people who are dying now do not have to die. We have the means of ending this pandemic. Let’s all get vaccinated.