How about bird flu? Lots of generally sane people seem to think it’s only a matter of time.
If you survive the initial impact of whatever-it-is (and you probably will), your biggest problem is going to be simple – broken supply lines.
Which means that, regardless of the threat, the biggest part of your preparedness plan is going to be stockpiling stuff. Food and water. More water (the stuff takes up quite a bit of space… and when the plumbing stops, don’t forget about the stockpile sitting in your water heater). Medicine (although stockpiling real medicine might involve bending some bloody useless laws, assuming it lasts long enough to be worth the trouble). A generator and fuel, if something you depend on (such as insulin) must be refrigerated. Ammunition (unless you know how to make arrows, and own or can construct a bow). Fuel for heating if you live someplace that gets too cold. Et cetera.
It’d be great if they’d let you stock a respirator and other nifty devices to help you live through an actual infection with bird flu or some other nasty germ, but only doctors get to have real medical equipment. Of course, during a disaster, there won’t be nearly enough doctors to go around. (Hell, there aren’t enough doctors to go around now… that’s a big part of the “health care crisis” people keep yammering about.) And the vaccine, if the powers-that-be manage to create one, will be given out on their terms, not yours. So your best bet during a pandemic is going to be to stay the hell away from everybody and live off of your stockpiled supplies.
If you’re ready to live like a hermit for a while, you’ll probably not be unlucky enough to catch the dread disease before it becomes widely known. (Unless we really do have a government crazy enough to keep a pandemic a secret until everyone catches it, like the one in The Stand. But I seriously doubt we’ll see that government anytime soon.)
If you start now, when nothing special seems about to happen (unless you live around southeast Texas or southwest Louisiana), there’s not much of a limit to the eventual size of your stash, other than the amount of storage you have to work with. You’ll want to-go kits, too, in case your home becomes acutely unhealthy and you’ve managed to lay hands on a means of transport that can actually go places on that dreaded day. Bikes (one per person, of course) might end up being your only viable means of transport, although the cargo capacity is low. Still, if the disaster is localized, it could be a way to get someplace that’s still civilized. And if the disaster is a localized one that you can see coming for a day or two, and you’ve elected to live in an area known to be prone to such a disaster without a car, and you think it’s unhealthy or undignified to wait for your fearless leaders to send you a bus, it’s a way to get out of the disaster’s path. (You won’t be in much danger from speeding cars along the evacuation route!) In any event, it’s still a good way to get someplace farther than the gas in your tank can carry you if it turns out you won’t be able to get more.
And finally, don’t listen to this bullshit. There’s plenty you can do individually to prepare for the day when you’ll have to stay the hell away from everybody for a while and everyone is trying to stay the hell away from you, and the more people that actually prepare and are able to do it as needed, the more of us will end up living through it. Whatever “it” turns out to be. And your political pressure should really be aimed at relaxing or eliminating any laws that stand in the way of your individual preparations – that’s a lot easier for a variety of people to judge and evaluate and agree on than whether the folks at the CDC are cooking up the right vaccine, and whether they have the facilities in place to make enough of it, and the right infrastructure to distribute it, or whether the President is a moron who’s deliberately crippling the CDC because he doesn’t believe in government and would really rather that the poor die off so they can’t bitch when he gives what’s rightfully theirs to his rich buddies.
Crappy Administrations will keep happening (regardless of your politics, you’ll agree they’ve happened several times in the past 30 years). But if you can rely on yourself, at least you’ll know you’re relying on the one person that unquestionably has your best interests at heart.