Tennessee Department of Health

Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, has called Gov. Bill Lee's cancellation of unemployment benefits while giving money to businesses an "immoral double standard."(Photo: John Partipilo)

Senator renews questions about failed state COVID testing contract

BY: - July 29, 2021

State Sen. Heidi Campbell is urging state auditors to complete an investigation into no-bid contracts awarded by Gov. Bill Lee’s administration since the COVID-19 pandemic started, pinpointing a botched contract with Nomi Health last year that cost the state nearly $6 million. A member of the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee, Campbell raised questions Wednesday about […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Griffey stance conflicts with Senate leadership

BY: - July 27, 2021

Rep. Bruce Griffey says he’s not “anti-vax,” yet he is one of a growing number of legislators leery of masks and vaccination campaigns and gaining a bigger voice in the General Assembly. In fact, the Paris Republican believes only a small group of people should take the shots, those over 60 with co-morbidities. That outlook […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Katrina Green of Nashville. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: State leaders own responsibility for low vaccination rates

BY: - July 26, 2021

Working in the hospital on the front lines of the pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 (COVID-19) virus last winter was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do as a physician. We were experiencing a massive surge of sick COVID-19 positive patients in the emergency department, many of whom were so ill they required high […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus prepares for an interview in her Williamson County home. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: Republican lawmakers split over Fiscus firing

BY: - July 23, 2021

The group of anti-vax legislators whose complaints about the Department of Health vaccine campaign led to the firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus won’t say much about her termination. But there is a clear break between that group and others who think the state made the wrong move. The topic is so sensitive that most lawmakers […]

Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, center, and Sen. Kerry Roberts, right, chair the Joint Government Operations Committee. (Photo: John Partipilo)

State lawmakers urge against push to vaccinate children

BY: - July 21, 2021

Two Tennessee lawmakers who chair the Joint Government Operations Committee warned schools Wednesday not to “bully,” “cajole” or “coerce” students to be vaccinated. In a rare crowded gathering for the panel, Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, co-chairman of the committee, sought to head off upheaval over the recent firing of the state’s chief immunization officer Dr. […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle Fiscus (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: The curious case of Dr. Fiscus

BY: - July 16, 2021

We began the week in the soap opera that is Tennessee with the firing of the Tennessee Department of Health’s chief immunization director.  Dr. Michelle “Shelley” Fiscus, a pediatrician by training, was unceremoniously sacked on Monday after four years of service with the state. Fiscus said her termination letter gave no reason for her firing […]

COMMENTARY
Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Stockard on the Stump: State spent millions on vaccine campaign that helped cost Fiscus her job

BY: - July 16, 2021

Tennessee spent $11.4 million on public service campaigns designed to battle COVID-19. The only thing it cost the state to fire its chief immunologist was a lot of embarrassment. Using coronavirus relief funds, the state paid Designsensory $8.9 million for messaging to encourage mask wearing and social distancing early in the pandemic. Once vaccines were […]

COMMENTARY
Dr. Michelle "Shelley" Fiscus, photographed in her home on July 15, 2021. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fired immunization director never saw letter recommending termination

BY: - July 15, 2021

The Department of Health fired its director of the immunization program for several reasons, including failure to consult superiors on the state’s vaccine program, according to a letter placed in her personnel file. But Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was terminated Monday, says she didn’t know about the letter written by Dr. Tim Jones on July […]

Members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Jeff Yarbro, left, and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, next to him, slammed Gov. Bill Lee for the political firing of a leading health official. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Democrats slam governor over firing of immunology chief

BY: - July 14, 2021

Two days after Tennessee’s chief immunologist was fired under pressure from anti-vax lawmakers, Democratic leaders blasted the governor for failing to take responsibility for the state’s vaccination policy. “I think it’s an abdication of leadership,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said during an online press conference. Democrats expressed shock that the Department of Health and Lee […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor’s administration made state medical director scapegoat for anti-vaxxers

BY: - July 13, 2021

One of Tennessee’s leading medical experts was fired this week, taking the fall for Gov. Bill Lee, when his administration caved in to ultra-conservative lawmakers upset with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine messaging toward teens. The department fired Dr. Shelley Fiscus, state director for vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases, even though she had been working at the […]

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly on the floor of the House of Representatives. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Republican lawmakers threaten to dissolve Health Department over child vaccines

BY: - June 17, 2021

GOP legislators came close Wednesday to dumping the Tennessee Department of Health after accusing it of targeting minors for mass vaccinations without parental consent. Instead, the Government Operations Committee ordered Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey to soften the state’s efforts to vaccinate children, mainly by bringing parents into the fold, and report back in July. Republican […]

A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C. The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed, which is an effort by several U.S. government components and public partnerships to facilitate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

Piercey to face raft of childhood immunization questions

BY: - June 16, 2021

The chairman of the House Government Operations Committee appears ready to grill Tennessee’s Health Department commissioner over childhood immunization policy, potentially to overturn the state’s mature minor doctrine. Rep. John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican, sent a list of questions June 12 to the Department of Health requesting that Commissioner Lisa Piercey be prepared to […]