Augusta, ME – Tomorrow, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Maine legislature will hold a public hearing on LD 867 “An Act To Prohibit Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for 5 Years To Allow for Safety Testing and Investigations into Reproductive Harm”. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) joins other public health groups in opposition of this legislation which would undermine public health. By prohibiting vaccine requirements, this legislation could place the health of cancer patients at greater risk.
Lawmakers will hear from public health experts, as well as Dr. Peter Bridgman, an ACS CAN advocate and retired physician currently under treatment for Multiple Myeloma. Bridgman shared his recent COVID diagnosis in light of his cancer treatment.
“Evidence to-date shows that patients with multiple myeloma have been severely impacted by COVID-19: diagnosis has been delayed and survival has been reduced. Multiple myeloma patients have been more frequently infected with COVID-19 and have higher mortality rates than patients who do not have multiple myeloma and have visited hospitals,” said Dr. Bridgman.
“I recently recovered from a mild COVID-10 infection and credit the vaccine with allowing my body to fight off more serious symptoms. I am sure many cancer patients in the State of Maine are similarly immunosuppressed and have grave concerns about their ability to fight off a COVID-19 infection. It’s imperative that as many people as possible who are in contact with cancer patients have strong immunity to the virus so they cannot pass on an infection to the vulnerable cancer patients,” he continued.
“Thousands of Mainers with chronic illnesses and their families are concerned about the action being sought in LD 867,” said Hilary Schneider, Maine director of government relations for ACS CAN. “Vaccine requirements help protect immunocompromised patients, including kids, and blocking businesses and organizations as well as cities and towns from enacting these policies jeopardizes the health of patients and silences their voices.”
“As a public health organization dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients and survivors, 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,” continued Schneider.
“The continued threat of COVID-19 to Mainers with chronic illnesses and their families is real and abundant. Many patients with chronic illness, including those who have had a cancer diagnosis, 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,” continued Schneider.
Dr. Bridgman further urged lawmakers to oppose LD 867.
“For the good of all Mainers, including cancer patients like myself and survivors, I stand with ACS CAN in urging the Legislature to reject any proposal that undermines vaccine requirements,” said Dr. Bridgman. “We urge policymakers who care about the health of Mainers to support proven public health strategies, including vaccine requirements and the right of local elected officials to enact similar protective policies for their constituents.”
About ACS CAN at 20
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting www.fightcancer.org.