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infectious diseases and collective responsibility (article)

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Flattening the Covid-19 Curve: CDC

It’s not just about you.

Health is a community practice and collective responsibility, and the need to remember that is as vital as ever in the current pandemic. Herd immunity doesn’t just apply to vaccinations — it applies to any kind of widespread infectious disease.

Practicing good hygiene and social distancing isn’t just about preventing you personally from getting sick.

There are a lot of jokes going around about not caring about the virus and booking cheap flights and vacations, and also widespread posts about how “if you’re young and healthy you’ll be fine, so who cares” — but once again, it isn’t just about individual safety.

Even if you just fight the virus off easily with nothing more than some fatigue — you will still be a disease carrying vector (yes, like bats, who infamously can fight off almost anything, but can pass on almost anything too) — especially if you’re out and about with nothing more than a cough.

Even if it won’t affect you much, you’ll still be sitting next to people on buses, existing in public spaces, and there will be people around you — people with poor immune systems, preexisting conditions, the elderly, or those who work with or around vulnerable people — who you can easily spread it to without even knowing it. Indeed, the stronger your immune system is, it is perhaps even less likely you notice that you’re carrying it, because your symptoms will be so mild.

But that doesn’t mean that all the safety precautions and measures being taken is irrelevant to you. Regardless of how healthy you are, there are other human beings you will interact with and pass by daily, with real lives and loved ones, some of whom will be a part of the “oh we’re not in that population we’ll be fine” population. It’s easy to be dismissive of those groups of people who are far more vulnerable if you’re not a part of them, but that doesn’t magically delete your accountability and responsibility.

It’s also why you should get your flu shot if you can, even if you can easily fight off the flu, because it’s creating herd immunity and preventing viruses from passing through you to somebody else who is less able to fight illnesses off.

Containing the spread of Covid-19, or any infectious disease, is not down to just protecting yourself. It is a collective responsibility, to keep others around you safe and healthy, and in doing so also reduce (or at the very least, spread out) the current strain on the healthcare system.