“Although we have made progress, COVID-19 is not over. There has been an increase in the number of cases recently, which includes the more contagious delta variant of the virus. A large majority of these cases are among those who are not vaccinated. And virtually everyone currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has not been vaccinated, ”lawmakers wrote, according to a report in the Tennessean.
“The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective against COVID-19,” they continued. “Had they been available from the start and widely used, more than 600,000 American families mourning the loss of a loved one, as well as tens of thousands of people who are waiting for a lung transplant, or trying to relearn how to to walk, would have avoided this heartache. “
They called on anyone without a “religious objection or legitimate medical problem” to get the vaccine. They also stressed that vaccines were a “personal choice” and vowed that they would not enforce any vaccine requirements.
This call for vaccination comes just weeks after the state’s main COVID-19 vaccine official, Michelle Fiscus, was fired, apparently to appease GOP lawmakers who were upset by her request for vaccination.
Last week, it was reported that Tennessee would resume advocacy for vaccines for adolescents following a nationwide backlash against the state’s vaccine policy.
As the Tennessean reports, the letter was signed by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (right) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (right), the acting chairman, both retired pharmacists.
“Vaccines have saved lives for over a century,” lawmakers continued in their letter. “As a result, polio and smallpox have been eradicated and measles, mumps and rubella are rare. “
According to state data, 39% of Tennessee’s population is fully vaccinated and about 44% of the population has received at least one dose. At the current rate, it will take several months, perhaps until next year, before at least half of the state is fully immunized.