NASHVILLE, TN (TN Tribune) — The ouster of Tennessee’s top vaccination official will put more lives at risk, Democratic senators say, as new cases of Covid-19 are ticking up in the state.

On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration fired Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs at the Tennessee Department of Health. The administration’s termination letter provides no explanation or cause for firing her.

But in recent weeks, anti-vaccine lawmakers from the controlling party targeted Fiscus for sending a letter to healthcare providers outlining the circumstances in which they could provide a Covid-19 vaccine to teenagers.

Dr. Fiscus was fired for doing her job and carrying out the public health mission of the state health department, says Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), the chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“A well respected member of the public health community was sacrificed in favor of anti-vaccine ideology,” Sen. Akbari said. “This disgraceful hatchet job is going to endanger the lives of unvaccinated Tennesseans at a time when we have a safe and reliable way to protect our families from this virus. A disappointing and poor decision.”

Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) summed up the situation on Twitter: “Well folks, this is just insane.”

Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) says the firing of Dr. Fiscus will lead to more public health failures in Tennessee as state health experts temper their recommendations to appease anti-vaccine politicians.

“We cannot afford to ignore the chilling effect that this is having,” Sen. Campbell said. “It will make this public health emergency worse by order of magnitudes.”