Taking one for 'Team USA' | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Taking one for 'Team USA'

  • UMES' James L. Bresette volunteers for COVID vaccine trial

    Monday, November 30, 2020
    Dr. James L. Bresette

    Dr. James L. Bresette, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and administration at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, found a patriotic path this Thanksgiving to sidestep the culturally accepted gluttony of the gastronomic holiday.  

    Bresette's found his Turkey Day appetite tamped down because he stepped up as a volunteer in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.  He spent the Tuesday before Thanksgiving “at the Veterans' Administration (VA) getting poked, prodded and processed through the study protocol to qualify as a research subject.” 

    “The study,” he said, “needs older guys and gals with 'comorbid' conditions to see how it is tolerated, (to) document side effects and (to) demonstrate vaccine efficacy in developing an immune response.”  

    A retired captain who swore into the U.S. Air Force as a cadet in 1978, Bresette served the nation for 36 years, including a two decade-plus stint with the U.S. Public Health Service.  

    “It was just like my officer commissioning physical 40 years ago - only the guys in this group were a lot older and a lot less fit,” said Bresette, who is also associate dean of UMES' School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.  

    The VA is partnering with Janssen EMEA, a pharmaceutical subsidiary of healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, to gauge if its version of a vaccine might be a solution to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus that has paralyzed the world.  

    A month ago, the Janssen vaccine was “temporarily halted for safety concerns,” Johnson & Johnson's website noted, but research on its effectiveness recently resumed.  

    Bresette has been an advocate of cardiovascular health following a heart attack in October 2018.  Since recovering, he has become an advocate of heart health supporting the local American Heart Association chapter's 'Go Red' initiative, but acknowledges he still “…works and stresses too much.” 

    His COVID trial experience is nothing new; Bresette volunteered two years ago to participate in a national flu vaccine study.  A sense of duty he embraced as a college student at The Citadel in South Carolina has stuck with him through the years. 

    “Janssen came up with the idea that veterans as a group not only meet the older criterion, but also still want to serve the nation,” Bresette said.  “It seems to be a solid strategy that's working with vets.”  

    With vaccine trials showing encouraging results and on the threshold of being approved for widespread distribution, epidemiologists nonetheless are warning those who receive one might experience mild side effects.  

    So Bresette, 61, rolled up his sleeve to receive what is known as “phase 3” of Janssen's trial vaccine. 

    Bresette said he's experienced “minor symptoms only. (A) loss of appetite and slight nausea, allowing me to confine my Thanksgiving dinner to a spoonful of everything that could fit on a dessert plate.”

    Bresette said he “met a fellow Strategic Air Command warrior who was a SAC bombardier before I was born.”  The gentleman, he said, could have been a body double for TV and film's Louis Burton Lindley Jr., better known as the late character actor Slim Pickens. 

    Six days after receiving the experimental vaccine he described his health as “so far, so good.”  

    The “positive side,” Bresette said, “is that I lost two pounds over Thanksgiving. Jenny Craig beware.”