http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/iis/stds/cpt.htm (helpful translation of all the vaccine codes)
Each year I make a donation to UNICEF. It is most likely one of the two most important donations I make each year (the other one is being a blood donor). When I read the list of the vaccines provided and what diseases UNICEF is attempting to eradicate, I say a special blessing to protect all those in need.
12 years ago I had to root around and find my original W.H.O. card to join Peace Corps. This past week I added some new vaccination entries to my card (yellow fever, meningitis, typhoid) so I can travel again. I was especially grateful and reminded myself how fortunate I am to receive these vaccinations. While vaccination can not make traveling problem free, it is a far better situation than winging it.
As I writhed from a light fever the first night, I knew deep inside yellow fever and meningitis were two diseases I did not particularly have an interest in obtaining. When I started my typhoid vaccine a few days later (oral pills), I realized on the first pill this was also not a disease I particularly cared for – I was a touch nauseous and had a low grade fever (nausea repeated for each of the other three pills).
I kept my CDC sheets close by for the couple days when my body was being stimulated to provide me immunity in case there was an unfortunate circumstance of getting a more awful reaction. My research on line included where these diseases are prevalent throughout the world and how many people die each year from these diseases. I reviewed symptomology and how people contract these diseases as avoidance is as important as the vaccination.
While I was amazed at the way various diseases are transmitted, I was in awe of the various scientists (Ottoman Turks, Jenner, Pasteur,Salk, etc.) who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better, healthier place. In the background, I kept reflecting on why so many parents were foregoing vaccinations for their children entering school. I tried to evaluate which is the better risk – reactions to the vaccination or contracting the disease in an international world. There is no right answer – risk is something we must reckon with for ourselves and our children.
And so, with a pause of thankfulness, I closed my eyes and slept soundly knowing my body was as secure as it could be against some yucky stuff.