The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant influence on almost every aspect of people’s lives around the world. Although the vaccination campaign can prevent the virus from spreading, this case is not unique, and other pandemics are possible in the future. Availability of vaccination, comprehensive public policy on its necessity, and improvement of people’s health awareness can effectively prevent the pandemic.
The most obvious and straightforward solution for preventing the next pandemic is vaccination, as the current application of this practice provides ample proof of its effectiveness. The ability of publicly available vaccines to prevent the COVID-19 symptoms has been proved during clinical trials, and its application in a real-life setting has also yielded positive results. According to Thomspon et al. (498), the fully vaccinated population of health care workers demonstrated the COVID-19 0.04 disease per 1000 person-days, while the unvaccinated population had 1.38 disease per 1000 person-days. Both mRNA vaccines available for broad application (Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna) effectively prevent the COVID-19 development in the population regardless of current symptoms status and previous presence of the symptoms associated with the COVID-19 disease. The practice of vaccination deserves broader application to prevent infectious diseases that can occur in the human population along with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Still, public policy on communication with patients and promoting vaccination is another factor that defines the efficiency of the vaccination campaign and rates of the population immunization. An example of the current pandemic shows that the factual availability of the vaccine is essential, as well as the availability of reliable information from credible sources. Mass immunization set several ethical questions, like privacy issues, limits of state powers, and public health reporting and data sharing (Subbian et al. 185). The mandatory vaccination questions the freedom of will and right of the person to decide on their health, while the completely voluntary vaccination may affect the public immunity and increase health risks for surrounding people. Public and professional communities attempt to find a uniform solution for these issues, forming the conventional policy needed for public communication.
The last method for prevention of the next pandemic is the increase of health literacy among the population, as the current pandemic showed that a significant number of people did not have information or competencies for lowering the infection risk. For instance, Paakkari and Okan (249) report that approximately half of the European adults possess skills sufficient for infectious diseases prevention. As the communicable nature of the COVID-19 contributed to its spread and the start of the global pandemic, an increase in health literacy could have prevented it or at least reduced the infection rates. Still, processing the experience obtained should lead to the development of awareness about communicable diseases and ways of their spread among non-specialists. Consequently, improving health literacy can slow the infection spread and give healthcare professionals a wider timeframe for its management.
Finally, three essential factors for the next pandemic prevention are vaccination against communicable diseases, formulating public policy for health awareness development, and improving health literacy. The current pandemic reveals that even effective vaccines require previous promotion and informing its recipients about possible consequences. Creating a solid public opinion and positive attitude to vaccination could decrease the chances for the next pandemic to happen.
Paakkari, Leena, and Orkan Okan. “COVID-19: Health Literacy Is an Underestimated Problem.” The Lancet Public Health, vol. 5, no. 5, 2020, doi:10.1016/s2468-2667(20)30086-4.
Subbian, Vignesh, et al. “Ethics and Informatics in the Age of COVID-19: Challenges and Recommendations for Public Health Organization and Public Policy.” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, vol. 28, no. 1, 2020, pp. 184–189., doi:10.1093/jamia/ocaa188.
Thompson, Mark G., et al. “Interim Estimates of VACCINE Effectiveness OF BNT162b2 and MRNA-1273 COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection among Health Care Personnel, First Responders, and Other Essential and Frontline Workers — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–March 2021.” MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 70, no. 13, 2021, pp. 495–500., doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7013e3.