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A drive-through coronavirus testing site in Springfield, Tenn. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Tennessee's top vaccine official told CNN she had been fired after sharing a memo citing state law about whether adolescents can seek medical care without their parents' permission.

Why it matters: The news comes amid an alleged push by Republican lawmakers in the state to halt vaccine outreach for teens for all diseases, including COVID-19, the Tennessean reports.

State of play: Tennessee is one of the few states in the U.S. that has a "mature minor doctrine" that allows physicians to decide whether minors have the "capacity to consent to vaccination themselves," per CNN.

  • Michelle Fiscus, a pediatrician who served as Tennessee's director of immunization programs, said she wrote the memo to vaccine providers explaining a decades-old state law fielding questions about what should be done if minors ask to be vaccinated.
  • The memo saw backlash from some lawmakers who felt it would undermine parental authority, Fiscus said.
  • She added that she was "terminated without cause."

The big picture: An internal report obtained by the Tennessean notes that the state's public health department will no longer be conducting vaccine outreach events at schools.

  • The state will also stop sending teens notices reminding them to get their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • "If the health department must issue any information about vaccines, staff are instructed to strip the agency logo off the documents," the Tennessean writes.

What they're saying: "This is about a partisan issue around covid vaccines and around people in power in Tennessee not believing in the importance in vaccinating the people, and so they terminated the person in charge of getting it done," Fiscus told the Washington Post.

  • "The government is sacrificing public health to be in the good graces of our legislators; it’s a horrid dereliction of duty," she added.
  • "The people of Tennessee are going to pay a price," Fiscus told CNN.

Go deeper

23 hours ago - Health

Appeals court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate

A health worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APhotografia/Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday denied an emergency request to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in Maine, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The mandate, which Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced in August, requires health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated by Oct. 29 or face losing their jobs.

Minnesota National Guard to assist with hospital staffing shortages

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on April 19. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Friday that he'll put the Minnesota National Guard on alert to help ease staffing shortages at hospitals and care facilities due to the rise in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents in the state.

Driving the news: Over 400 Minnesota patients are currently waiting for beds to open up at other care centers as hospitals across the state have reported that they're at or close to reaching capacity, AP reports.

Oct 15, 2021 - Health

State COVID lotteries did not increase vaccination rates, study finds

California Gov. Gavin Newsom at a drawing for the state's Vax for the Win program in June. Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

None of the 19 states that implemented statewide COVID-19 vaccine lotteries this summer saw an increase in vaccination rates as a result of the incentive programs, according to a study published Friday in Jama Health Forum.

Why it matters: The study is the first to examine the effectiveness of 19 state-run lotteries, and offers insight into how governments can better craft incentive-based policies, said Andrew Friedson, one of the study's authors and an associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.