In the US, a local investigation has found that Tennessee Governor Bill Lee's religious views may have affected the vaccination distribution in his home state.
Tennessee as a whole has been a slower state to get vaccinated, with only 38 percent of the total population having received the vaccine so far. While the local governor's office claims there was no delay in distributing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a former local official claims that Bill Lee delayed the vaccine spread due to his beliefs that the J&J vaccine contained foetal tissue.
While the vaccine used lab-replicated foetal cells (known as foetal cell lines) during its production process, the vaccine itself does not contain any foetal cells.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been one of the fastest vaccines to have an impact as it only takes one shot for it to work.
However, some individuals argued that the vaccine had the tissue of aborted fetuses within, thus making it an unethical vaccine to take. This belief caused Lee to delay distribution in February - a top vaccine official in TN. Dr. Fiscus was fired on July 12th from her position and claims it was due to tension between herself and lawmakers regarding efforts to vaccine teenagers.
According to Fiscus, Lee put out a "flat prohibition" on J&J vaccines distributed through state health departments. Not only did he have concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine, but also his belief that it contained foetal tissue. Experts have determined that J&J does not contain fetal tissue or fetal DNA. However, it did rely on old cells from a single abortion in 1985.
Fiscus claims that the governor "Imposed his own beliefs on others" by requiring them not to use the J&J vaccine. The governor's office claims that this belief did not affect vaccine turnout in any way. "The state has never limited or delayed the public's access to any of the approved Covid-19 vaccines, either in public health departments or the pharmacy partnerships that have been a part of vaccine distribution," says a state official in Lee's office.
According to Dr. Fiscus, this delay has lead to an explicit shortage in J&J vaccines in Tennessee, with only an estimated 4,000 state residents having received said vaccine.