Legislators read letter about TDH at committee meeting

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A joint statement by two members of the Joint Government Operations Committee involving the Tennessee Department of Health was read at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.

Sen. Kerry Roberts read a letter from him and Rep. John Ragan that discussed their main concerns with the administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children without parental consent and marketing to minors.

Chairman Roberts &amp; Ragan of the Joint government operations committee requested a private meeting with Dr. Piercey of the <a href=”https://twitter.com/TNDeptofHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TNDeptofHealth</a> Before agreeing to her request of deferring today’s meeting<a href=”https://twitter.com/WSMV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@WSMV</a> <a href=”https://t.co/MzzAPvElCW”>pic.twitter.com/MzzAPvElCW</a>&mdash; Tosin Fakile (@TosinfaksTV) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TosinfaksTV/status/1417923554109177863?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 21, 2021</a>

While reading the statement, Roberts said Dr. Lisa Piercey of the Tennessee Department of Health had a scheduling conflict and asked to reschedule when she could attend the committee meeting. Before they agreed to it, they asked to meet with her privately.

Roberts went on to say during that private meeting with Piercey and governor’s office confirmed that it is not the police of TDH, the TDE, or our 89 health departments to administer the COVID-19 vaccines to children without parental consent.

Roberts said Piercey detailed the steps that will be taken to stop any marketing directed at minors, which he said there were two major concerns for them.

“Interpreting these two concerns as being anti-vaxxers is intellectually dishonest. It’s lazy and it’s wrong. We have not discouraged Tennesseans from getting vaccinated nor have we discouraged Tennesseans from vaccinating their children,” Robert said.

There were physicians and others showing support at today’s meeting as well. “Please TN get vaccinated. I need your help. Physicians of Tennessee need your help,” Dr. Green, an emergency doctor told the panel. “We nearly broke our health care system this past winter. It could happen again if this Delta variant continues to spread.”

Piercey was not in attendance at Wednesday’s Joint Government Operations Committee meeting. News 4 has reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health for comment.

Rep. Vincent Dixie talked to the media after Democratic legislators weren’t allowed to respond to the letter read during the Joint government operations committee. He called on the governor to provide more leadership on COVID-19.

“The same tactics that senator Roberts said about bullying they used to against Dr. Piercey against Piercey and Fiscus and that is the biggest hypocrisy that we just witnessed,” Dixie said.

TN State Representative <a href=”https://twitter.com/vincentdixie54?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@vincentdixie54</a> talking to the media after democratic legislators weren’t allowed to respond to the letter read during the Joint government operations committee. He is calling for more leadership from <a href=”https://twitter.com/GovBillLee?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@GovBillLee</a> on <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/WSMV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@WSMV</a> <a href=”https://t.co/Ijx9DE03DD”>pic.twitter.com/Ijx9DE03DD</a>&mdash; Tosin Fakile (@TosinfaksTV) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TosinfaksTV/status/1417927197877313541?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 21, 2021</a>

During the committee’s June 16 meeting, Republican legislators suggested dissolving the Tennessee Department of Health, citing that the department was targeting vaccines at children.

Since that meeting, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, Tennessee’s leading vaccine official, has been fired and the Department of Health has scaled back vaccine outreach.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Tennessee physicians and residents called for Tennesseans to get vaccinated and support for Dr. Fiscus.

<a href=”https://twitter.com/KGreenMD?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@KGreenMD</a> among those on the front row at the committee meeting making their stance clear and visible to Tennessee lawmakers. <a href=”https://twitter.com/drfixus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@drfixus</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/WSMV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@WSMV</a> <a href=”https://t.co/aIaZTN9ZQh”>pic.twitter.com/aIaZTN9ZQh</a>&mdash; Tosin Fakile (@TosinfaksTV) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TosinfaksTV/status/1417909934109376512?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 21, 2021</a>

Tennessee physicians with the group Protect My Care tell News4 they’re going to this meeting today in support of Dr. Fiscus and say they’re calling for an investigation into her firing.

“Ultimately we would like to see her fully reinstated in her position, but I am not very hopeful that that would happen,” said Dr. Katrina Green, emergency physician. “She’s done a wonderful job throughout the pandemic in trying to keep Tennesseans safe, and so [we’re] just showing up to support her and let her know she is not alone.”

Representative Vincent Dixie didn’t mince any words when asked. “We’re playing with peoples lives right now and this is real. This is not a political game,” Dixie said.

News4 reached out to both chairmen of the joint committee.

“At this point, no state related entity should be administering the COVID19 vaccine, which the FDA considered an unapproved product under emergency use authorization, without parental consent or marketing to minors. That is our desire and that is our intent,” Senator Kerry Roberts said.

Representative John Ragan said he wouldn’t comment on the announcement before it was made.

The Tennessee Department of Health declined to issue a statement on the matter.

The meeting is scheduled at the Cordell Hull Building at 1 p.m..

Follow News4 for updates.