Earlier today the Tennessee Department of health released a letter from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tim Jones to Department Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey (supposedly from July 9th) outlining the justification for firing Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the state’s top vaccine expert. This comes after a tremendous amount of blowback on a national scale, and reeks of a cleanup effort on the part of Governor Lee’s administration.
The letter disparages Dr. Fiscus in many ways, questioning her character, leadership abilities, and relationships, which doesn’t seem to jive with her glowing performance reviews – but it also goes the extra mile and alludes to outright corruption, implying Dr. Fiscus was steering resources to a foundation for her own benefit, calling it a “conflict of interest”.
Dr. Tim Jones says:
“Over the past three months Dr. Fiscus requested to give a new non-profit organization TDH funding to support VPDIP activities. This organization was founded and led by Dr. Fiscus, had no Executive Director or other employees, and had no other substantive source of funding. Providing funds to such an entity would be poor judgement and a substantial conflict of interest.”
We spoke with Dr. Fiscus about this. She says she helped convene Immunize TN, a 501(c)(3) organization, to raise awareness about immunizations and refute anti-vaccine propaganda and get more Tennesseans vaccinated. “We’re asked by the CDC to put together pro-vaccination coalitions, and they give a grant to the state to support your state’s immunization coalition,” Dr. Fiscus told us. “Tennessee didn’t have one, so we got one together to make one. Immunize TN was going to do some of the work we were asked to do, which is standard operating procedure.”
Dr. Fiscus says she doesn’t receive pay from Immunize TN and is not on the board, saying she helped bring it together and was trying to steer resources to it to help it grow and become effective, part of her job as the state’s top vaccine expert. “They’re making it seem like I was trying to feather my best, which is completely false. The letter from Tim Jones alleges there was no board of directors, which is untrue. It has been in the works for 2 years and is part of my work plan.”
She says requests for funding for Immunize TN were made by Doctor Dorothy Sinard, who is on the board and is one of the other doctors involved. Dr. Sinard could not yet be reached for comment.
“Why wouldn’t that letter have been shared with me at the time of my termination?” Dr. Fiscus wonders.
A fair question.
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