As a veteran, I’m able to work with some outstanding leaders. Years ago, I met Dr. Len Kirschner while serving on a health care leadership board. From time to time, I receive a note or two from him, and with this being the first column of the New Year, I wanted to share with you his latest communique. Dr. Kirschner is a retired USAF Colonel, former Director of AHCCCS, and Past President of AARP.

Pandemics, Epidemics, and Plagues have been humankind’s nemesis since the dawn of history. The human race has survived these attacks, but it has been a costly war. History shows that these pathological attacks have come, peaked, and receded but have not disappeared. The Black Death of the 14th Century was devastating and then receded.  The Flu Pandemic of 1918-19 was devastating and then receded. COVID is following that pattern.

The New Year is a time to make resolutions. I prefer predictions, even though predicting is hard, especially when discussing the future.

Year three of COVID will be different than years one and two. That is an easy prediction. A Pandemic is a worldwide issue, and the world’s population needs to be vaccinated. That will be a massive undertaking but is doable. We did it with Smallpox and Polio, and 2022 will be a year in which we make significant strides in reaching that goal.

Omicron is the latest variant, we will have others, and we will run out of Greek letters. The current surge will peak and recede, and we see that phenomenon already with Omicron in South Africa.

Fully vaccinated is now a primary series of shots, and the definition will shortly be a primary series and a booster shot. By the end of 2022, it will be a primary series, a booster, and annual shots for the foreseeable future.

Convincing the anti-vax population to change their minds and get the shot has been difficult. Public health pronouncements and calls from politicians and celebrities have been only marginally successful. You may hate the idea of mandates, but they work. Currently, you need proof of vaccination to travel internationally but not domestically. That may change in 2022 and be a significant boost to increase vaccination rates.

Developing vaccines has been a superb effort by science. We now need a vaccine that is effective and safe for the youngest among us, and we will have that vaccine in 2022.

On December 31, 2022, COVID will still be with us, but the pandemic will be far less devastating than it is today. Stay healthy, stay vaccinated and enjoy the New Year.–Dr. Len Kirschner

Paula Pedene is the author of A Sacred Duty, How a Whistleblower Took on the VA and Won. You can reach her via email at paula@pedene.com.


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