To the Editor,
As the physician leadership of the Williamson County Medical Society, we are writing to express our support for our colleague Dr. Michelle Fiscus, former medical director of immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health.
Not only is it appropriate for the top vaccine official at the state health department to promote COVID-19 immunization among young people, it would be a dereliction of her duty not to do so. The Mature Minor Doctrine for which Dr. Fiscus has been criticized was not created by her and has existed since 1987; the language used in her communication was provided by the department’s own attorney. This was a clarification of existing policy that she was asked specifically to provide.
Over the past few weeks, average daily new COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in our state, with the highly transmissible Delta variant a particular concern. The loss of Dr. Fiscus’ expertise will only undermine efforts to improve the COVID vaccination rate in Tennessee, currently one of the lowest in the country at 38%. Equally concerning is the rollback of efforts to promote even routine immunizations among children and adolescents.
As physicians, we are working every day to educate our patients about the COVID vaccine and combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. It is a difficult job which is made more challenging by the politicization of this issue. We urge state leaders to prioritize the health and well-being of Tennesseans in considering future policy decisions.
Williamson County Medical Society Executive Committee
Jeffrey Suppinger, MD, President
Eva Parker, MD, Vice-President
Elliot Himmelfarb, MD, Treasurer
Sam Bastian, MD, Immediate Past-President
Richard Lane, MD, Executive Director