Tennessee Legislators Are Outraged That Teenagers Might Want to (Checks Notes) Not Get Covid

The state of Tennessee abides by the "Mature Minor Doctrine" when it comes to almost all medical care. That means that minors between 14 and 18 years-old can see doctors on their own without a parent's permission. The physician or medical provider may decide not to provide care based on a judgment about the maturity of the teenager, but, generally, if you're over 14, you can get medical help (except abortions because, well, Tennessee). A 1987 Tennessee Supreme Court decision clearly put this doctrine in place for the state. Hell, the Tennessee legislature even passed legislation guaranteeing that minors could get medical care without parental consent for things like drug abuse, emergencies, and even contraception. Sometimes, sanity does exist where you least expect it. And then again...

When the Covid vaccine was made available to those 12 and up, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, sent guidance to all vaccine providers as a response to inquiries about the applicability of the Mature Minor Doctrine in the case of the Covid vaccine. Prior to sending the email, Dr. Fiscus had contacted the Department of Health's general counsel for a statement she could use for the guidance, and she received an email that had the very document I linked to up there, adding that it had been "blessed by the Governor’s office on the subject" and "feel free to distribute to anyone." So she did. 

And, because we live in the stupidest fucking time possible, someone complained and that complaint led to Republicans in the state legislature losing their shit. They attacked Dr. Fiscus and the Department of Health for the letter and for ads that featured kids that read, "Tennesseans 12+ Eligible for Vaccines: Give COVID-19 vaccines a shot." That's pretty much bullying, according to GOP assholes, like Rep. Scott Cepicky from the ass-end of nowhere, who said, "For a department of ours to make it seem like you need a vaccine...to fit in is peer pressure applied by the state of Tennessee. Personally, I think it's reprehensible that you would do that, that you would do that to our youth." Another dumbass, Sen. Janice Bowling from Sisterfuck or Pigass or something, said of the letter, which, again, was sent to vaccine providers in case a 14 year-old came in to get jabbed, "It is very disconcerting to see the letter, or memo, from Dr. Fiscus stating that Tennessee law allows the Department of Health to give vaccinations to children 14 years of age." Except Tennessee law does allow it. Also, Tennessee is way the fuck behind on vaccinations in general, with only 38% of the population fully-vaccinated and the Delta variant starting to kick medical asses.

And, because the stupidest fucking time possible always leads to the stupidest actions possible, the governor fired Dr. Fiscus. In her response to her termination, she wrote an impassioned plea: "I am afraid for my state. I am angry for the amazing people of the Tennessee Department of Health who have been mistreated by an uneducated public and leaders who have only their own interests in mind. And I am deeply saddened for the people of Tennessee, who will continue to become sick and die from this vaccine-preventable disease because they choose to listen to the nonsense spread by ignorant people." Damn straight. Science, motherfuckers.

And, because the stupidest fucking actions possible are always topped by something even stupider, today, the Tennessee Department of Health, which had already slowed outreach to young people on the Covid vaccine, decided that it "will halt all adolescent vaccine outreach – not just for coronavirus, but all diseases." That's right. That's how fucking awful this has gotten. That's how short-sighted, idiotic, and savage the Tennessee GOP is. No outreach for any vaccines they might have missed. No outreach for flu shots. Nor for meningococcal vaccines. Certainly not for HPV vaccines.

There's bonus fuckery, too, like "the health department will also stop all COVID-19 vaccine events on school property." I got my vaccine at a high school in NYC. I'm sure many others have gotten theirs at schools, and one event was planned in Tennessee for this month. That's canceled. 

Let's remember that the reason for young people to get vaccinated is not their risk for Covid; they rarely get seriously ill or die from it, although it's more frequent than any side effects from the vaccines. It's so that they don't carry the disease and, really, so they don't become incubators for fucked up variants. But this is some insidious shit because the basis for any of this is the completely deranged idea that the vaccine is harmful in some way. And it's not. It's extraordinarily safe. It's so safe that it's morally and medically fucking wrong not to get it.

It is madness, truly. The country is being divided into zones based on the vaccination rate, and that shit's unsustainable and nonsensical. More on that later this week.