Our country is experiencing with corona virus an almost unprecedented approach to stopping the spread of an infectious disease with quarantines, social distancing messages, warnings about public gatherings and travel, and dire predictions about an uncertain future. Older Americans may remember localized public health interventions like this for polio or diphtheria, but for most of us it’s brand new. Having spent much of my career in public health I want to emphasize to my friends and followers with a diabetes connection why this event is different and so much more important than what we have experienced.
First, accept the fact that we are in the high-risk population, both of becoming infected and of the infection becoming serious. So avoiding infect is incredibly important. We shout out this message every fall about influenza…..get your flu shot and your pneumonia shot…. and medical experts have been clear that corona virus is medically more serious than influenza. But another way Corona and influenza are different is much more important now.
Not only is there no vaccine to help protect us from Corona virus, there is no what’s called “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is the phenomenon where people without immunity to an infectious disease are protected from exposure and infection to some extent by the immunity of other people. A disease that constantly comes against people vaccinated or previously exposed in the past can’t spread effectively. With corona virus there is no vaccinated or past exposure immunity among the population – nobody is immune.
So, these warnings and limitations on activities are not overkill. Instead, they are the tried and proven approach to limiting our exposure to this dangerous disease where there is no immunity in the population. That’s why I urge you to follow the guidance of my public health colleagues to keep yourself safe and healthy.