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Report: Officials say don’t aim vaccine information at teens

July 9, 2021 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Health officials across Tennessee have been instructed to make sure they don’t aim coronavirus vaccination information at juveniles, according to a published report.

The Department of Health instructed county-level employees last week to stop vaccination events aimed at teens and to halt any online outreach to them, The Tennessean reported, citing emails it obtained. The shift comes two weeks after a legislative hearing where Republican lawmakers admonished the agency for how it was communicating about the vaccine.

One email from Dr. Tim Jones, the health department’s chief medical officer, said officials should not advertise vaccine events to anyone besides the “general population” and “should not have any pop-up events ‘for adolescents.’”

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Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, took issue with a Facebook post during a legislative hearing last month that featured a teen with a Band-Aid on her shoulder that said anyone age 12 and up was eligible to get vaccinated.

“The Department of Health is targeting our youth,” Cepicky said during the hearing. “When you have advertisements like this, with a young girl with a patch on her arm all smiling, we know how impressionable our young people are.”

The Department of Health confirmed it deleted some social media posts about teen vaccinations. It said while the posts weren’t intended to target juveniles, they were “perceived by some to give the wrong impression.”

“The department has evaluated events, social media posts and other means to ensure it is explicitly clear that it is supporting parents in this process and there is no room for interpretation, otherwise,” the agency said in a statement.

About 2% of teens in Tennessee are vaccinated, according to state data.