Tennessee Discontinues Outreach Programs for Children COVID-19 Vaccinations
Tennessee local media reported on July 15, 2021, 'The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) will halt COVID-19 adolescent vaccine outreach.' An internal memo seen by Mainstreet-Nashville had been sent outlining how children can legally receive the COVID-19 vaccine without parental consent.
Internal documents show that the health department will stop holding COVID-19 vaccine events at schools and facilities that primarily serve children and stop sending postcards to youth reminding them to get a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the Tennessean first reported on July 13, 2021.
However, TDH spokesman Bill Christian says that the department has “in no way halted the immunizations for children program.”
“TDH understands the importance of childhood immunizations, the impacts to overall health for Tennesseans, and we continue to support those outreach efforts,” Christian said. “Providing information and access are routine public health functions, and that has not changed.”
The Vaccines for Children program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1993, provides information to parents regarding common childhood immunizations and provides free vaccines to children who would otherwise not have access. More than 600 physicians and health clinics in Tennessee participate in the program.
The U.S. CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees—i.e., state health departments and certain local and territorial public health agencies—which in turn distribute them at no charge to those private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.
Tennessee’s childhood vaccination rates are at or above the national average for common vaccines, including DTaP, MMR, Varicella, HPV, and the flu shot, according to TDH data published in 2018.
Note: as of July 14, 2021, TDH reported over 5.4 million people in Tennessee had received a COVID-19 vaccination, representing about 42% of the state's population. COVID-19 Vaccines are now widely available to Tennesseans 12+ in all 95 counties across our state.
Check COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability by browsing all vaccine providers and find a location close to you at VaccineFinder.org.