Dr. Sharon Brangman is a local doctor on the front lines, educating the high risk about the COVID-19 vaccine.
And while she was reluctant at first to be featured on our Black History Month series, she wants us to do as she does: focus on the work that needs to be done, which is something that she has been doing as a Physician in Central New York for 40 years.
When I requested an interview with Dr. Brangman, she was very specific. She was not interested in doing a Black History Month piece about herself. Instead, she would speak about her current mission to educate the marginalized on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Brangman, who serves as the Chair of Geriatrics at Upstate Hospital said, "I’ve had patients say, ‘no, Dr. Brangman. No one is injecting me with nothing like that.’”
For weeks, Dr. Brangman has been educating against mistrust and skepticism in Syracuse’s Black and brown communities about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Someone mentioned to me that they heard that the vaccine was going to be targeted to Black and brown communities. And someone said, ‘whenever they target us, that is usually not a good thing,’ and I started to realize the messaging that we say has a lot of meaning,” Dr. Brangman says.
Dr. Brangman feels the hesitancy comes less from the notorious Tuskegee Experiment and more from everyday experiences with healthcare providers and bad messaging.
“My goal wasn’t necessarily to convince people to take the vaccine, although I hope that is what happens, but I really wanted to make sure that the information they got was reliable,” Dr. Brangman says. “I also don’t want the healthcare community to think that an unequal distribution of the vaccine is due to hesitancy, because I think that is a very easy cop out. So I think the healthcare system, our community, our government, we have responsibilities to make sure the vaccine is equally available across our community.”
Dr. Brangman educates via Zoom with local churches and community groups. The number one fear and question she hears a lot is inquiry on how the vaccine could be safe when it was manufactured so quickly.
“What I try to say is that it was made quickly, but it wasn’t rushed. And because there was a lot of government support, they were able to get a lot of the red tape done in an efficient manner,” Dr. Brangman shares. “And especially for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they are based on technics that have been worked on for 20 or 30 years.”
Dr. Brangman is also working hard to make the vaccine more accessible for those from different socio-economic backgrounds and age groups.
“So when we make plans as a community, we have to think of all members of the community. We cannot do a ‘one size fits all’ community,” Dr. Brangman says.
Her passion is to recognize and support the underrepresented.
“If you look at COVID, it started in the nursing homes and it disproportionately impacts older adults, it disproportionately impacts Black and brown people, so this has become kind of a heightened perfect storm,” Dr. Brangman says.
A storm that she is trying to help people in marginalized communities weather with education.