One group is warning school systems not to impose masks on children returning to class, while another is now telling their followers that getting the vaccine is the right thing to do.
On the House side, 12 conservative Republicans have just sent a letter to each of Tennessee’s school systems, warning them not to require face masks or proof of vaccination.
“The legislature has given no authority to local school boards or superintendents to require face coverings or enact rules related to … communicable disease prevention,” said the letter written by Representative Bruce Griffey, R-Paris .
On the Senate side, half of the Republican caucus signed a letter encouraging Tennesséens to be vaccinated.
Among those who signed the Senate letter was Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, who is a pharmacist.
“It shouldn’t be political,” the letter said. “Every life lost to this virus is tragic. COVID-19 vaccines save lives. “
For doctors on the front lines against COVID, the battle between science and politics has been frustrating.
“I don’t change the oil in my car because I’m not trained to do it,” said Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who led the state’s immunization efforts until two weeks ago.
“Yet in these instances where we’re really talking about life and death, some lawmakers don’t hesitate to publicly express their views on how people should be treated medically. Isn’t that practicing without a license? “
Fiscus was referring to a legislative hearing in June when Tory lawmakers became enraged at Ministry of Health footage showing teens appearing happy after receiving a COVID vaccine.
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, held up one of the promotional images.
“When you have commercials like this with a young girl with a patch on her arm, all smiling, we know how impressionable our young people are,” said the Maury County Republican.
Even more embarrassing was when Senator Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, suggested that a vaccine might not even be necessary.
“We’ve almost, it seems, achieved herd immunity, vaccine immunity, whatever,” Bowling suggested.
Response from Fiscus: “We are not on collective immunity, obviously. We have more and more cases. “
NewsChannel 5 survey asked the doctor, “What was your reaction to hearing a politician lecture on medicine?”
“We hear that a lot,” Fiscus replied.
Bowling even suggested remedies that he thought were just as good as vaccines.
“D3, zinc, you know, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine – there are other things available that people choose to use other than bang,” said the Coffee County Republican.
Fiscus was not impressed with Bowling’s medical knowledge.
“She is prepared to accept treatments not approved by the FDA that have been shown to be ineffective, but will oppose a vaccine that has been used in hundreds of millions of people in the United States and which is now approved or licensed by the United States. FDA EUA and has full FDA approval imminent, ”she continued.
“I find that very ironic.
The letter from the Senate leadership struck a very different tone from Bowling.
“Vaccines have saved lives for over a century,” he continued. “COVID-19 vaccines have been developed using high standards and the best available medical technology. “
As for Dr Fiscus’ future, she has denied speculation that she herself might be interested in politics.
“I am a pediatrician, I am a doctor,” she said. I know enough to know where my path is, where my expertise is.
“I think it was by accommodating people who are not qualified for the job that we got to where we are. I don’t know anything about taxes, infrastructure, income or work.
“I know medicine. And I will stay in my lane. “
Fiscus said she was not sure exactly what her next step would be, although she hopes to stay involved in the kind of public health work she was engaged in before she was caught in political crossfire.
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