COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach to Minors in Tennessee Comes to a Halt

The Tennessee Department of Health is ceasing the reminders, promotions and mailings to minors to get vaccinated, not only for COVID, but other diseases as well.

COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach to Minors in Tennessee Comes to a Halt

Photo via Adobe, by andreykr

Perceived as potentially as solicitation to minors, mailings to Tennessee teenagers to get vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer be sent out by the Tennessee Department of Health. Nor will the health department continue outreach to teens for other routine vaccines, including the HPV vaccine and flu shots.

The changes take place as the pandemic shows new signs of spread in Tennessee. The average number of cases, reported by the Nashville Tennessean on July 13, more than doubled in two weeks, from 177 to 418. The delta variant is responsible for a growing number of cases, as well. Tennessee’s count of known delta variant cases rose from 27 on June 24 to 125 on July 8. Plus, just 38% of Tennesseans have been fully vaccinated.

Fueling the dial-back of the reminders is pressure from conservative lawmakers, who have embraced misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine, according to Dr. Michell Fiscus, Tennessee’s former top vaccine official. Also contributing to the changes are accusations by lawmakers of the agency purposely trying to circumvent parents with notifications and using peer pressure to convince minors to be vaccinated.

Health department spokesperson Sarah Tanksley said in the Nashville Tennessean report that the health agency is responding to “an intense national conversation that is affecting how many families evaluate vaccinations in general,” and is planning to do more market research into the causes of vaccine hesitancy.

Additionally, the health department will end COVID-19 vaccination events at schools.

There’s even been discussion of dissolving the health department altogether. This comes after a contentious legislative hearing that took place mid-June.

“I have never said that I want to dissolve the reconstitute the Department of Health,” said Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, who proposed ending the agency on June 16. “What I said is, when we come back next month, I want that as a consideration.”

Although Tennessee will stop sending reminders to minors, Alabama’s Department of Public Health is holding a TikTok contest to encourage young people to get vaccinated before the start of the school year, reports WVTM. Residents who are between the ages of 13 and 29 can submit a TikTok video of themselves getting vaccinated or create a message explaining “This is why I got vaccinated.”

Four winners of the contest will be awarded $250 gift cards, reports AL.com.

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