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TRAVERSE CITY (Mich.) — A Traverse City medical director has announced that he has been fired after he criticized elected officials regarding a policy that bans mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for county employees, as well as controlled vaccine messages from the department.
Dr. Michael Collins said his contract wasn’t renewed, which means that Thursday is his last day after 28 years with the Grand Traverse County Health Department.
“I saw it coming,” Collins told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “I find it a shame that the health department isn’t able to be independent and use its best judgment and have its opinions openly communicated. … There is no one who could be in a better position to advise than the health department.”
County commissioners approved the resolution in August. It states that the county will not require COVID-19 or vaccination tests for county employees contractors, employees, or job applicants. The resolution states that any information about vaccinations sent by the county will encourage people to discuss “risks and benefits” with their physician.
The policy states that individuals have a “sacred inalienable right” to make a choice.
Local health departments in Michigan typically have been urging people to get immunized.
Collins wrote a newspaper article two days later in which he claimed that commissioners had “crossed illogical opinion to irresponsibility”.
The health department, he stated, must be free “to give science-based, evidence-based guidance to all who can benefit from it.”
Collins claimed that a county official had urged him to resign, and that his contract would not likely be renewed after September’s end. Separately, Nate Alger, the county administrator, informed Collins this week that he would not be hired again.
When the Record-Eagle inquired if Alger’s opinion had played a part, Alger declined to answer.
Alger stated that it was decided the department of health would “go in a different direction.”
“I would write it over again should I be given a do-over,” Collins said in an email to the health department’s staff.
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