Gov defends agency's vaccine chief firing, outreach rollback
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Thursday came out in full defense of his administration’s firing of the state’s vaccination chief and rollback of outreach for childhood vaccines, both of which have sparked national scrutiny over Tennessee’s inoculation efforts against COVID-19.
“Government needs to provide information and education, provide access and we need to do so to parents of those children,” Lee told reporters. “That’s the direction the department took. Regarding individual personnel decisions, I trust the department to make decisions consistent with the vision.”
Lee’s comment marks the first time he has weighed in publicly on the firing last week of then-vaccine chief Michelle Fiscus, who has repeatedly said she was terminated to appease some GOP lawmakers who were outraged over state outreach for COVID-19 vaccinations to minors. Some lawmakers even threatened to dissolve the Health Department because of such marketing.
Yet Lee sidestepped direct questions on why Fiscus was fired, saying Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey never disclosed those reasons to him.
Instead, Lee encouraged Tennesseans to get a COVID-19 shot as the state has steadily …
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