Sask. woman who halted medical treatment for COVID-19 vaccination pleas for 2nd dose

Sheila Sherbot is calling on the provincial government to prioritize people with compromised immune systems to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose (Submitted photo).

A Saskatoon woman is calling on the provincial government to prioritize people with compromised immune systems to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Sheila Sherbot has been living with rheumatoid arthritis for 10 years and receives Rituxan infusion treatments every six months.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than a person's joints.

The Canadian Rheumatology Association put out a recommendation saying those who take Rituxan should wait five months before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if treatment has already been done or wait four weeks to continue treatment after the last vaccine dose.

She says those who don’t receive consistent treatment will “deteriorate more.”

“These were my choices, that I could get my infusion in March as they were already scheduled, but if I did that, then I would have to wait five months before I got my first COVID vaccine,” Sherbot told CTV News.

Sherbot says the medication she takes for rheumatoid arthritis suppresses her immune system and getting the vaccine at the same time would be too hard on her body.

She chose to get the vaccine instead as it was a “no brainer” and checked with her rheumatologist and family doctor who agreed she should get the shot.

“There’s no doubt in my mind if I get COVID, I will die.”

She says she called to book a second COVID-19 vaccine with a note from her doctor two weeks ago and the response was “nothing about second vaccine shots at this time.”

“It’s not because I want the second shot so I can go out and party for heaven’s sake, I just want it so I can get back on my treatment so I can continue to have a reasonable life,” Sherbot said.

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Health asking when people with compromised immune systems will receive their second dose.

In an emailed statement, the ministry said it cannot comment on individual circumstances, however people with underlying health conditions that are clinically extremely vulnerable are currently prioritized to receive their first vaccine.

Sherbot has already received her first dose of Pfizer and is looking to get her second shot as soon as possible.

“The Saskatchewan COVID-19 Immunization Second Dose Strategy will be forthcoming in the near future, and will provide additional comments at this time," the ministry statement said.

Sherbot believes there are thousands of people like her in the same situation, waiting to continue their rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

“We’re all put at a standstill in the meantime, we feel sicker … it’s really important that we all continue our medicine as soon as we can.”