4 Tennessee lawmakers push to delay COVID-19 vaccines for kids

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Top Republican House leaders in Tennessee are urging Gov. Bill Lee to delay the state’s health department from distributing and promoting COVID-19 vaccines to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, according to a report from the Associated Press.

In a letter sent to the governor, the four Republican House leaders said they had many concerns about the vaccine for kids under five years old.

The shots for kids in that age group began rolling out this week.

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A portion of the letter reads: “We simply cannot recommend injecting an mRNA vaccine into children who have never been at serious risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19.”

The lawmakers said the “COVID-19 emergency has long passed in Tennessee,” but some health experts dispute that claim.

The legislators who signed the letter are House Speaker Cameron Sexton; Rep. Jeremy Faison, Cosby (Cocke and part of Greene Counties); Rep. William Lamberth, Portland; and Rep. Jason Zachary, Knoxville.

Lee’s spokesperson said in an email that the governor’s office was reviewing the letter and did not immediately respond to questions about whether the state would delay or change the distribution of the vaccine, the AP said.

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In a now-deleted Tweet, Senator Raumesh Akbari expressed frustration:

“This is so incredibly maddening! Many folks across Tennessee rely on our health departments to receive all sorts of vaccines and should have access! If a parent wants their child to receive a vaccine, that has NOTHING to do with a group of state elected officials. Period.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.