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Peabody Award-winner Trey Kay brings us stories exploring all sides of the cultural issues that too often divide us.

Vaccination Pushback: COVID Skepticism Hits Local Leaders Hard

Vax Scapegoat - Images
Paige Pfleger
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Dr. Michelle Fiscus, former Director of the Vaccine Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program for the Tennessee Department of Health

Masks and vaccines continue to trigger Us & Them divides across the nation.

As statewide public health mandates have dwindled, public health choices increasingly fall to local government officials - city, county and school board leaders. Many say the mask and vaccination requirements they’ve imposed in the interests of public health, have put a target on their back. More than 80% report they’ve been harassed, threatened or experienced violence. Some are afraid to do their job and they say the aggressive resistance has a budgetary impact on cities required to enhance safety measures.

Us & Them host Trey Kay travels to several southern states to hear from people about their decisions and the consequences. He spoke with Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was Tennessee's top vaccination official. In the summer of 2021, she was fired after getting caught in an intense battle between the science and the politics of public health.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the CRC Foundation and the West Virginia Humanities Council.

This program is made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through the West Virginia Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond. You also can listen to Us & Them on WVPB Radio — tune in Thursday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m., or listen to the encore presentation on Saturday, Dec. 25, at 3 p.m.

Host of Us & Them/Independent Producer, tkay@wvpublic.org, @Trey_Kay
Brad is a contributor to the Us & Them podcast

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