Tennessee’s top vaccination official has been accused of lying about mailing a dog muzzle to herself before she was fired for publishing a memo supporting children over the age of 14 getting a COVID-19 vaccine without parental permission.
Shortly before her firing, Dr. Michelle Fiscus claimed someone anonymously sent a dog muzzle to her state office through Amazon in the mail in an attempt to intimidate her.
During a recent appearance on CNN, Fiscus told Anderson Cooper there was no note to accompany the package, and that Amazon refused to reveal the sender when she contacted them.
“At first, I thought that was a joke and contacted a few friends, and then, when no one claimed it, I realized that that was something that was sent to me as some kind of a message,” Fiscus said.
Fiscus said she reported the incident to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which conducted an investigation and discovered the package containing the muzzle traced back to a credit card in Fiscus” name.
Following questions from investigators, Fiscus provided information for an Amazon account in her name which was a different account than the one used to purchase the muzzle.
However, officials concluded “the results of this investigation that purchases from both Amazon accounts were charged to the same American Express credit card in the name of Dr. Michelle D. Fiscus.”
Fiscus refuted the investigation’s findings in a tweet on Monday, saying: “Hold tight. No I did not send it to myself.”
In July, Fiscus said she was presented with a letter of resignation and a letter of termination amid scrutiny from Republican state lawmakers over her department’s outreach efforts to vaccinate teenagers against the virus.
Fiscus, who was the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health, chose to be fired and said she was not given a reason for her ouster.
But the expert added that she believes her termination came because she sent out information on May 10 about the mature minor doctrine, according to News Channel 5.
In a June committee meeting, Republican lawmakers criticized the letter that she was told had been “blessed by the governor’s office.”
Tennessee has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Only 38 percent of the state’s nearly seven million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Republican lawmakers also admonished her agency for its communications about the vaccine, including online posts.