Tennessee once again made national news last week for controversial reasons when Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health was fired and departmental memos redirected vaccine outreach efforts to adolescents and children.

Fiscus claimed her job was a political casualty after lawmakers, angry about state efforts to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible school-age kids grilled Health Department officials.

A memo issued by the department halts COVID-19 vaccination clinics at schools, removes minors from postcard mailings about vaccines and removes the Health Department’s logo from some published information about vaccines for all diseases.

Department officials said the policy clarification was meant to ensure the proper information was distributed to children’s caretakers, those who make important health decisions for their families, and to avoid the appearance of encouraging vaccines directly to children without gaurdians’ consent.

Some saw it as an overcorrection by health officials to political pressure and said the department’s policies and practices should be based on solid medical information and not be subject to politization.

It’s an important issue for families and part of an ongoing conversation in our nation, so we thought we’d ask you, our readers. Should vaccine outreach target children? Were the state’s policy changes warranted? Were lawmakers’ concerns about adolescent vaccination efforts founded?

Send your answers to mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters must be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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