State can still vaccinate children without parental OK
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – Tennessee’s chief health officer said Friday the state can still vaccinate some minors without parental consent in an attempt to clear up conflicting claims by lawmakers who complained that the state’s former vaccine chief had information about the spread long-term vaccination policy for children before she was released.
On Friday, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, who sacked Michelle Fiscus and temporarily suspended public relations for all child vaccines, denied lawmaker claims that the state’s clinicians will not follow parental consent guidelines. This policy was established in a 1987 State Supreme Court case covering public and private healthcare providers. Piercey said it would remain in force but would only be used in “very nuanced and marginal situations”.
Piercey’s redirect came two days after Republican Senator Kerry Roberts and his Government Operations Committee co-chair, GOP Rep. John Ragan, announced during a legislative session that “Dr. Piercey and the governor’s office confirmed that it is not the policy of the Tennessee Department of Health, the Tennessee Department of Education, or our 89 county health departments to give the COVID-19 vaccine to children without parental consent. They didn’t say the six larger independent health departments or private providers would stick with the change.
The policy, dubbed the Mature Minors Doctrine, was a focal point in the ousting of Fiscus, who argued it was fired to appease lawmakers who oppose vaccination work against COVID-19 vaccination for eligible minors.
In her first public statement since Fiscus was fired, Piercey did not want to discuss the resignation other than to make a statement similar to what Governor Bill Lee said the previous day – that her job is to ensure that the department’s staff and policies are in line ” his vision and our belief in the proper role of government. ”
However, Piercey said the “break” in public relations for childhood vaccinations was over. She said they need to make sure that marketing of vaccines for children is not targeting children and not their parents, as some lawmakers claimed.
Piercey said she met with the senator on Thursday to testify and said they were now “totally in agreement” that there are “very nuanced and marginal situations where this could happen, and neither of us wants to get in the way come”.
“Including Chairman Roberts when I spoke to him yesterday, and also the Governor, we realize that there are some very unique situations where there are older teenagers who may find themselves in social situations that do not allow them to for their parents to come. “With them for one reason or another,” Piercey said. “So we will be able to continue to serve them according to the doctrine of maturity-less.”
A health department official’s recommendation to dismiss Fiscus claims has circulated “her own interpretation” of the doctrine that allows vendors to vaccinate children 14 years and older without parental consent if they believe the child is mature enough. The recommendation also alleged deficiencies in their management and identified problems with the staff.
Fiscus said the letter she sent in response to the vendors was verbatim from documents from the department’s senior legal advisor. She provided email records to support the claim. She also issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the alleged inconvenient offenses and handed out positive performance reviews from her manager for years, including last month when she was commended for “strong leadership”.
Piercey said she only knew Tennessee’s doctrine eight times this year, and three were for her own children who were vaccinated while at work.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Tennessee is one of the five states where providers can decide whether a minor is mature enough to consent to vaccination without parents. 41 other states require parental consent, and five have consent under the age of 18.
Regarding the end of the children’s vaccination campaign, Piercey said the department looked at all “public materials” including marketing, leaflets, postcard reminders and consent forms. She said, “Although we never intended to target children, I understand that there was a void in how it was received.”
She said the only permanent change is to remove 11 social media posts that only featured children. Future ads will show children with their parents, she said.
And while some back-to-school vaccination events may have been paused, some are already scheduled for next week. The department’s logo was left on some leaflets, including school leaflets, during the re-evaluation, but now the logo is being used again on documents, she said.
“The reason we were on hiatus is because we didn’t want to leave room for interpretation about where we were shooting, and we’re shooting to get the message across to the parents,” Piercey said.