- Tennessee’s top Covid vaccination official, Dr Michelle Fiscus, was fired in July
- Shortly before her firing, Fiscus claimed someone anonymously sent a dog muzzle to her state office through Amazon
- Fiscus alleged the package – which had no note – was meant to intimidate her
- But an investigation by Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security traced the package back to a credit card in Fiscus’ name
- Fiscus on Monday maintained that she did not mail it to herself
- Fiscus believes she was fired for publishing a letter in support of teenagers getting vaccinated against COVID-19
- It gave information allowing teens over 14 to get jab without parental permission
- She cited Tennessee’s mature minor doctrine, which has been in law since 1987
Tennessee’s top vaccination official has been accused of lying about mailing a dog muzzle to herself before she was fired for publishing a memo supporting children over the age of 14 getting a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission.
During a recent appearance on CNN, Fiscus told Anderson Cooper there was no note to accompany the package, and that Amazon refused to reveal the sender when she contacted them.
‘At first, I thought that was a joke and contacted a few friends, and then, when no one claimed it, I realized that that was something that was sent to me as some kind of a message,’ Fiscus said.
Fiscus said she reported the incident to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which conducted an investigation and discovered the package containing the muzzle traced back to a credit card in Fiscus’ name.
Following questions from investigators, Fiscus provided information for an Amazon account in her name which was a different account than the one used to purchase the muzzle.
However, officials concluded ‘the results of this investigation that purchases from both Amazon accounts were charged to the same American Express credit card in the name of Dr. Michelle D. Fiscus.’
Fiscus refuted the investigation’s findings in a tweet on Monday, saying: ‘Hold tight. No I did not send it to myself.’
In July, Fiscus said she was presented with a letter of resignation and a letter of termination amid scrutiny from Republican state lawmakers over her department’s outreach efforts to vaccinate teenagers against the virus.
Fiscus, who was the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, chose to be fired and said she was not given a reason for her ouster.
But the expert added that she believes her termination came because she sent out information on May 10 about the mature minor doctrine, according to News Channel 5.
‘I was told that I should have been more ‘politically aware’ and that I ‘poked the bear’ when I sent a memo to medical providers clarifying a 34-year-old Tennessee Supreme Court ruling,’ Fiscus said.
‘I am not a political operative, I am a physician who was, until today, charged with protecting the people of Tennessee, including its children, against preventable diseases like COVID-19.’
The doctrine is a rule of law in the US and Canada arguing that an unemancipated minor may have the maturity to choose or reject health care treatment without the knowledge of their parents, and should be allowed to do so.
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s administration and the Health Department declined to comment on the firing, citing personnel matters.
Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Only 38 percent of the state’s nearly seven million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
20:15 EDT 16 Aug 2021 , updated 20:20 EDT 16 Aug 2021
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