Tennessee, like so many states in the South, has struggled to deal with the pandemic because of how many conservatives refuse to get vaccinated for political or otherwise ignorant reasons.
But now, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who worked in the state’s health department, says there was another major obstacle to getting people vaccinated: Republican Gov. Bill Lee and his Christian faith.
That’s not a gratuitous slam on his religion. Fiscus says Lee falsely believed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (which required one shot and didn’t need to be stored in ultra-cold temperatures) contained fetal tissue, which conservatives link with abortion, and that caused Lee to block it from being used as widely as possible when it mattered most.
“The governor forbade us from using it in health departments,” Fiscus insisted.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “So the governor put out a flat prohibition: J&J cannot be distributed through the state health departments?”
“That’s right,” she said.
In fact, experts say the J&J vaccine does not contain fetal tissue, it does not contain fetal DNA, although — like many vaccines — it is produced using fetal cells derived from a single abortion in 1985.
“The cells that are used are decades-old cells that are the great, great, great, great, great grand-cells of those original cells. So there are no cells there that are from that original fetus,” Fiscus said.
If her story is accurate, it would mean a “pro-life” governor concerned over one abortion decades ago made a decision so ridiculously stupid, it may have led to countless deaths from COVID. It’s the sort of hypocritical bullshit we’ve come to expect from the anti-abortion crowd.
The governor’s office denies the story, but NewsChannel 5 says “two other health department insiders independently confirmed Fiscus’ account of the governor’s apprehensions.”
It wasn’t until later that Lee gave a green light to the J&J vaccine — but by that time, a lot of people who might have gotten the shot may have given up or found new irrational reasons to avoid the vaccine altogether.