The Globe’s Point: Is referring to our world as post-pandemic irresponsible?

In an increasingly divided society, exhaustion seems to be the one commonality we all share. We have been dealing with a global pandemic for more than a year. The costs have been enormous in infinite ways. With more of us getting vaccinated, the nightmare should be finally over, right? 

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. We are not living in a post-pandemic world, despite all the talk that we are close to it. Yes, there are many CDC guidance measures that fully vaccinated people don’t need to follow, such as getting tested after travel either domestically or internationally, having to self-quarantine after travel, or wearing a mask in a “private setting” or residence where all fully vaccinated people are. But you still have to wear masks around people more vulnerable to the virus and—we know this is absolutely crushing—should not attend medium-sized or large-sized gatherings. If you do, the CDC advises still wearing masks and social distancing. 

That’s not all. Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean there is no chance you can’t still be a carrier for the virus, so you have to be particularly careful around non-vaccinated people and those who are immunocompromised. 

And there’s still a lot we don’t know. Researchers are trying to figure out how long vaccines are effective. There are ongoing doubts about the Astrazeneca vaccine (not distributed here in the U.S.,) and a shortage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has states in the U.S. hurting. Variants are spreading fast among young people, and, as many medical experts have told media outlets, we are constantly in a race between vaccinating and the virus. In some areas, the rates of COVID-19 transmission are winning over vaccination rates. 

We know: we just want things to go back to normal and to live in a post-pandemic world. But the thing is, our normal allowed the global spread of this terrible pandemic. When (hopefully not if) we reach herd immunity, maybe we should not just resume the status quo of forgetting to wash our hands and using hand sanitizer once every 6 months. Pandemics are not isolated incidents, and there will be another coming. Instead of just waiting for it to happen, we should take the lessons learned from COVID-19 and apply them for the future while once again getting to enjoy our lives.