• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Counselor takes part in COVID vaccine trial

DR. IMELDA BRATTON, a licensed counselor who sees her clients over the Internet these days, said she guessed she’d be getting a placebo when she took part in a double-blind COVID-19 vaccine trial last week. The next morning, when she woke up tired, headachy and fuzz-headed, she was fairly certain she’d guessed wrong. (Photo submitted)

Imelda Bratton said when she took part in a double-blind COVID-19 vaccine trial at Baptist Health last week, she guessed she’d be getting a placebo. The following day, she realized she had almost certainly been wrong. “When I woke up the next morning, I thought, ‘Nope – not the placebo. I got the real deal,’” she said. Bratton said she was very tired, had a headache and felt fuzzy-headed. “If you would have asked me whether I wanted chocolate cake or chocolate cake, I could not have told you,” she said. The Texas native, who moved to Versailles in 2018, is a counselor, and with a Ph.D in Counselor Education, she teaches masters’ level students how to be counselors. She said she saw the unpaid vaccine trial offer on Facebook. “At the time, I had been taking a break in between just a marathon day of counseling clients, and they were all … talking about COVID … what that was like in their lives, and it was just kind of one of those days that was just heavy. I was experiencing the same kind of reaction … and I could really, really relate to what my clients were experiencing,” Bratton said. A researcher, Bratton put her skills to work looking into the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines nearer federal approval and the Ensemble vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson she might receive. On Monday, Dec. 7, she showed up for her injection. Because it was a double-blind study, neither she nor the person giving her the injection would know whether it would be the Ensemble vaccine or a placebo. She had no immediate reaction to the injection, which was given at noon on Dec. 7, but the next day was a different story. She spent much of the day in bed, though she asked a friend to take her to Kroger because, while she might have trouble with chocolate cake-related questions, she was hungry for something else. “I said, ‘Please, will you take me? Because I don’t want to drive myself and I’m really craving chicken and dumplings,’” Bratton said, chuckling. “It was just kind of like foggy-thinking and of course, it was a full day of clients that I had, so I rescheduled them, and they understood.” The next day was better. “Wednesday morning, when I woke up, I was perfectly fine. Right back to regular,” Bratton said. She said the people running the study made no promises about whether they’ll ever tell study participants whether they got the vaccine or the placebo, but she hopes they will. For one thing, while she plans on taking one of the COVID-19 vaccines when they become available to the general public, she’d like to know whether she’d already been given one. Regardless, with some of her clients telling her how their families are divided by the debate over how to prevent COVID-19, she saw her participation in the trial as another way to, however indirectly, help them. “If it’s not me helping, who else?” she asked. Besides, not only did she feel fine two days after the injection, she also didn’t experience one of the more common coronavirus symptoms – even when she felt rotten, the chicken and dumplings, made from an old family recipe, tasted great, she said.

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