MIDLOTHIAN, Va., -- Diane Whitesel counts herself among the immunocompromised. Her body struggles to easily fight infections compared to those with healthier immune systems.
“I am a stage 4 breast cancer patient with no evidence of disease which is great,” Whitesel stated. “But I’m on a drug which is parp inhibitor called Talzenna which affects my immune system.”
The Midlothian mother of three also had lung cancer several years ago and currently battles COPD.
She’s one of the thousands of Virginians eligible to get a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as 28 days after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines.
Whitesel received a third dose of the Moderna vaccine from her pharmacist at a CVS near her home.
“I had to say I had an immunocompromised situation but there's no proof of vaccinations,” she explained. “Actually, interestingly enough, the pharmacist did say he thought people were coming in for other health problems. He said it’s way more than the percentages they were supposed to be, but he’s not allowed to ask for proof.”
Dr. Melissa Viray with the Richmond-Henrico Health District said she was disappointed but not surprised to hear about those who are not yet eligible for a third dose trying to game the system.
“I really encourage people to follow the science and follow the guidance and wait for the appropriate time and also it’s not authorized for that use,” Viray said during a Friday teleconference with reporters.
U.S. health officials said all fully vaccinated and healthy adults should receive booster shots beginning September 20 or eight months after their second dose.
“This is important additional protection for people who have impaired immune systems,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver. “As COVID-19 cases rise across Virginia and the country, everyone who is eligible should get appropriately vaccinated as soon as they can.”
Whitesel experienced minor symptoms after receiving her third dose of the vaccine.
“I only had a day and a half of illness. So, the first day after the shot I just felt sluggish and achy all over. I took a lot of Tylenol all day and night. I woke up the next morning not feeling sick at all,” she said.
Now, she encourages her unvaccinated loves one to get the first shot.
“It’s hard,” Whitesel said. “You don’t want people to get convinced too late.”