Shots! (Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!)

From Japanese encephalitis to hepatitis, typhoid to tetanus, dengue fever to yellow fever, I’ve learned more about diseases and vaccinations in preparing for my trip to India than I thought I’d ever have to know.

It’s been a hassle getting everything I need for my trip. In the past month, the vaccines I’ve gotten and the medications I’m supposed to take have blended together in a blur of travel clinics, referrals and prescriptions. If my mom didn’t have an M.D., I don’t know how I’d be getting through.

I feel lucky to have lived as healthy a life as I have. I did break my wrist two years ago when I was viciously mauled by a 12-foot grizzly bear (by which I mean I fell off my bike). And every year I get stricken by the seasonal flu once or twice. But I’ve never suffered any major injuries, been sick for more than a week, or taken medicine for more than a couple days. And for an American kid, I’m about par for the course when it comes to health.

But my health has very little to do with luck.

One number tells a story far better than any anecdote I could give you: 78.4. That’s the life expectancy for an American baby born today. With a rank of 38, that number puts the US akin to countries like Luxembourg, South Korea, Chile, Denmark and Portugal.

India’s life expectancy, on the other hand, is 63.7. That puts them at 115th in the world, just behind Iraq, and just ahead of Kyrgyzstan.

Those two numbers say more about how good we have it in the US than how “bad” it is in India. The rest of the world hasn’t caught up either, with the mean just shy of 69.

India’s also come a long way in recent years. The life expectancy there has risen 21.3 years since 1960. Compare that to the world’s increase of 16.4 in that same time period, and the 8.6 year increase by the US.

In short, we have a lot to be thankful for in the US.

Life expectancy can’t tell the whole story, of course. It’s just a crude estimator of the health of a country. But the fact is, the health of Americans is relatively stellar. For all the deficiencies the US has, the infrastructure for healthcare is outstanding.

We have ambulances that get to emergencies quickly in every city. Our streets are paved, sweeped, and shoveled of snow. Our water is not only pure, it has added fluoride. There are countless problems that never concern us and likely never will, because the infrastructure is in place. We can afford to walk outside without bug spray and ignore our mosquito bites.

These are luxuries afforded us in the US that won’t be there in India. These shots I’m getting are a testament to how nice it is in America, just because we never need them in day-to-day life.

If only there were just some way for me to go to India without getting all these shots…

Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Everybody!

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3 Responses to “Shots! (Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!)”

  1. p yoder Says:

    Nice post, Chris.

    You are actually much healthier than many U.S. teens. You might want to comment on the exceptional PE program at your public high school. You probably are not aware of the extraordinary attempts by many to provide you adequate nourishment before birth and in the early years. Since we are blessed to live in a part of the U.S. with clean air and water and some of the best soil in the world, it was possible to eating primarily organic fresh food from farmers within 50-100 miles of home during your high school years.

    The vaccine for yellow fever is in short supply. Fortunately you do not need it for India. Even though you received vaccination against many diseases, a message the CDC makes clear is that prevention of disease is key. So don’t forget your DEET! (And common sense.)

  2. John Says:

    This title elicits not so found recollections from my hazy memory, specifically of actually hearing the lyrics while trying to play tennis.
    Good article though :p, and we are very lucky here.

  3. James Says:

    Fat princess XD

    and damn right I will take the game.

    also, I will miss ya dude

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