Special Session Priorities Jeopardize the Safety of Floridians with Chronic Illnesses and Their Families

Leading National Public Health Organizations Cite Importance of Proven Public Strategies Including Vaccine Requirements in Ensuring Safe, Necessary Services to Patients

November 15, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, FL – November 15, 2021 – Today, the Florida Legislature convenes to begin a special session to consider legislation that would undermine vaccine requirements.

The below statement is on behalf of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“Millions of Floridians with chronic illnesses and their families are concerned about the action being sought by the legislature in the upcoming special session. Vaccine requirements help protect immunocompromised patients, including kids, and blocking business and organizations as well as cities and towns from enacting these policies jeopardizes the health of patients and their families and silences their voices.

“As public health organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the patients we serve, the health and safety of the patients we serve is our top priority. We oppose efforts like these that undermine evidence-based, public health policies and endanger those with chronic illnesses.

“The continued threat of COVID-19 to Floridians with chronic illnesses and their families is real and abundant. Many cancer patients and others with serious conditions may not get optimal protection from COVID-19 vaccination. At the same time, many patients with chronic illness also face a greater risk of complications or death from COVID-19. That’s one reason why it’s critical for as many people to be vaccinated as possible.

“Meanwhile, many with chronic conditions are delaying essential care because of the pandemic. Public health measures like vaccine requirements play an important role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 to cancer patients and other immunocompromised people.

“For the good of all Floridians, including the patients we serve, we urge the Legislature to reject these proposals that undermine vaccine requirements. Instead, we urge policymakers who care about the health of Floridians to support proven public health strategies, including vaccine requirements and the right of local elected officials to enact similar protective policies for their constituents.”

In addition to getting vaccinated and a booster if you qualify, the coalition of health groups encourages following the CDC recommendations to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 by wearing a mask according to CDC guidelines, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands often and staying home if you feel unwell.

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.

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