Is there an effort to shut down Tennessee’s health department for encouraging teens to get vaccinated?

Thursday, July 1, 2021
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

On June 16, 2021, a Tennessee legislature committee discussed efforts to vaccinate minors. Rep. Scott Cepicky, a Republican, moved to “dissolve and reconstitute” the state health department over concerns that it was “coercing” children into getting vaccinated.

Cepicky and other lawmakers took issue with a department memo sent to vaccine providers about the “mature minor doctrine”—a 1987 state ruling that permits minors 14 and up to receive health care without parental consent. Cepicky also objected to department ads displaying children smiling with a bandage on their arms, suggesting that they amounted to “peer pressure” and “guilt-tripping” given the “impressionable” nature of “young people...wanting to fit in.”

The department clarified that its intent was to be informative, not promotional.

The Republican-led committee plans to reconvene and continue its discussion in July.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Lab. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Lab writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Lab reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.