The Crisis That Follows a Public Health Emergency

Op-Ed: New COVID strains are coming. It’s no time to let down our guard.

In a world gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, the way we respond is paramount.

I’ve written for years about how public health crises can influence a society’s response to a pandemic. In particular, how public health crises can impact the perception of those affected, and how that perception can guide the way the public and the government perceive a new pandemic.

In this latest article, I’d like to shift the lens across and look at a different type of crisis: The crises that are emerging when you don’t have a public health emergency, or the crisis that follows a public health emergency. When a pandemic is raging, the public doesn’t know whether to fight it with more social distancing, or run as far away from the source of the virus as possible.

For many decades, we’ve taught kids that fighting the virus means staying at home and not opening your mouth. At the same time, the flu virus gets stronger each year. In 2014, the H1N1 flu virus was declared the most severe flu virus ever seen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that anyone who’d been vaccinated against the H1N1 flu last year had a 90 percent chance of no longer carrying it.

The good news is that the United States has already found a way to fight this new flu. We have a vaccine that we can all get with just a few minutes of talking to your doctor. This vaccine has proven incredibly effective to date. (For the time being, it’s only available through the CDC’s public health emergency vaccine bank. If you don’t have this opportunity, you absolutely should get your flu shot.)

So, why don’t we wait for the next pandemic to end it all?

When I was in high school in the ’80s, there was a plague in our part of the country. It was called

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