NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville pediatrician said she worries the state is heading down a path encouraging vaccine misinformation that could lead to children being harmed.
Dr. Vidya Bansal has practice for 16 years, including residency, and owns her own office locally. She said when she heard news that the state would pause or reduce outreach to teenagers her initial thought was it could be potentially damaging for families and kids.
"When the community does not have a good vaccination rate, you are then predisposing children who are too young to get the vaccine to getting some of these vaccine preventable diseases," said Dr. Bansal.
As originally reported by the Tennessean, the state sent out a memo to stop all vaccination events in schools and vaccination outreach to teenagers.
It follows Republican state lawmakers pushing back against case law that allows children as young as 14 to receive a vaccine without consent from a parent.
Tennessee's top vaccine official was fired from her position after she sent out a memo concerning the Mature Minor Doctrine, that some in state government took issue with.
Dr. Bansal said she sees these decisions as politically motivated, as Dr. Fiscus was only sharing the case law.
"This decision appears to have been made due to political pressure," said Bansal. "The way that it has transpired the timeline in which it has transpired, it leads me to no other avenue to think otherwise. When you have legislators and governments coming in the way of the physician-patient relationship, your prescription has now become red and blue and that is not the oath that pediatricians and physicians have taken."
Bansal said she believes patient relationships should be between the physician and the person, not the state government. She believes leadership in this case made a grave mistake that could lead to Tennesseans seeking out information that's false.
"When parents don't have access to that information, they're going to look for alternate sources of that information which may not be correct," she said. "Personally, all pediatricians have seen devastating consequences for children of all ages and these diseases then reach the older populations and COVID is a perfect example of this."
Bansal is part of the group Protect My Care, which is asking for the Justice Department to investigate state leaders following the firing of Dr. Fiscus.
It also comes on the same day where Dr. Fiscus revealed she had been sent a muzzle anonymously via Amazon. Fiscus said her family reached out to TN Homeland Security, but Amazon wouldn't reveal who sent the package without a subpoena.