I think it is useful to put the possibility of the next pandemic in the social and medical contexts of previous pandemics. (The last pandemic was 1968. But 1986-87 was a vicious seasonal flu in some parts of the country.)

This first reference is from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) archives. The news stories are really interesting. The one I mentioned below conveys some of the feeling of people at the time of the last pandemic. The files (radio or TV) are also small enough to download and play on a dial-up line.

Influenza: Battling The Last Great Virus
For centuries it has silently stalked us, killing tens of millions of people and evading all the best efforts at a permanent cure. It is influenza, a potentially lethal bug whose unique ability to reinvent itself in deadlier forms has prompted researchers to dub it the “last great virus” facing humanity. CBC Archives explores the deadly history of influenza and looks at what’s being done to avoid a new global pandemic.

http://archives.cbc.ca/ 300c.asp?id=1-75-1965
http://archives.cbc.ca/ IDCC-1-75-1965-12722/science_technology/influenza/

Bracing for the Hong Kong flu
Broadcast Date : Dec. 16, 1968
Host: John O’Leary, Reporters: Joan Donaldson, Jess Marlowe, Al Robbins
Reports from across North America about the impact of the 1968 pandemic.
http://archives.cbc.ca/ IDCC-1-75-1965-12722/ science_technology/influenza/

Medical history of the epidemiology of influenza is available here--Morbidity Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/index.html
for example,
August 12, 1988 / 37(31);466,468-470,475
Current Trends Influenza — United States, 1986-87 Season”
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/ mmwrhtml/00001075.htm