Vaccine expert who was sent dog muzzle as a threat bought device with her credit card, police say

Michelle Fiscus is maintaining that she did not send the muzzle to herself
Doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

August 18, 2021 11:42am

Updated: August 18, 2021 12:48pm

A former public health official in Tennessee who claimed someone threatened her by sending her a dog muzzle, appears to have bought it herself, according to the results of an investigation into the incident. 

Michelle Fiscus, the former vaccine director for the Tennessee Department of Health, denies she purchased the muzzle herself, claiming instead that her credit card information was stolen. Police, however, say they have closed the investigation.

Fiscus previously told multiple outlets that she received the muzzle, in all likelihood due to her statements on vaccines. Over the course of the pandemic, she told state health officials that teens are allowed to receive vaccines without parental consent under existing state law.

The police report provided evidence that Fiscus received some unpleasant emails as a result of her pro-vaccine stance, though they did not appear to rise to the level of threat.

One late June message told Fiscus that she had overstepped her authority, while another read, "I am putting you on notice that we will be holding you accountable for any adverse effects or deaths on children" due to vaccination. 

A report from the  state's homeland security department stated "the Amazon package containing the muzzle traced back to a credit card in Fiscus' name."

In August, the case investigator wrote that at this time, "there appears to be no threat" to Fiscus. 

Fiscus is maintaining her claim that she did not order the muzzle, recently tweeting, "[Police] report says a second account was made under my name from a phone in WA? Waiting on unredacted report. No, I didn't send it to myself."

According to the Nashville Post, Fiscus was terminated from her position at the Tennessee Department of Health due to a number of issues with her conduct.

The chief medical officer of the department said the issues included, "alleged failures to maintain good working relationships, claimed her leadership and management of the state’s vaccine program was ineffective, and accused her of seeking to divert state funding to a nonprofit she founded to support Tennessee’s Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and Immunization Program."