Legislative Proposals Jeopardize the Safety of Cancer Patients

Proposed Bills Would Restrict the Ability of Staff and Health Care Providers That Serve Cancer Patients to Safely Deliver Necessary Services

November 2, 2021

MONTGOMERY, AL – November 2, 2021 – Today, the Senate is expected to consider legislation that would undermine vaccine requirements by entities in the state after the bill was passed by the Senate General Fund Committee late yesterday. Since the start of the special session, 12 bills such bills have been proposed in the Alabama Legislature.

The proposals broadly restrict entities’ like the American Cancer Society’s ability to safeguard the patients they serve. The below statement is on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in reaction.

“On behalf of the millions of patients, survivors and their families across the state, we are concerned about the bills proposed in the legislature. By prohibiting  vaccine requirements for individuals that interact with patients, these proposals undermine organizations’ ability to protect immunocompromised individuals  – a grave concern for entities like ourselves as well as hospital systems that serve cancer patients directly.

“As a public health organization dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients and their families, the American Cancer Society requires vaccines for its staff and volunteers who interact with cancer patients and their caregivers closely including at ACS Hope Lodge residential facilities in Birmingham and as part of its patient transportation program, Road to Recovery.

“The health and safety of our immunocompromised cancer patients as well as volunteers and staff is a top priority. Furthermore, such legislation intercepts our ability to deliver on our mission and promise to provide care for cancer patients by compromising their safety during this difficult time, placing them at a higher risk of exposure to viruses when they are already facing a life-threatening illnesses.

“For decades, we have been committed to speaking out on policies that impact the future of cancer – today’s events strengthen our resolve for our mission. For the good of all Alabamians, including the patients we serve, we urge the Legislature to reject the Senate and House bills and urge policymakers to support proven public health strategies, including vaccine requirements.”

A survey of cancer patients and survivors last summer found that two-thirds of patients, and many caregivers, were worried about protecting their health from COVID-19. Those worries, combined with disruptions in health care services, have led many cancer patients to delay or forego treatment with reports of such disruptions.

The Hope Lodge in Birmingham provides over 12,045 nights annually of lodging. The Road to Recovery program provides an estimated 4,540 rides annually throughout the state.

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