The Passport Health office had moved since the last time I went. The first time I was there it was far uptown. It has since moved closer to a second-floor office in a building on Summer Street. When I walk in, after feasting on a Compo salad and a slice of buffalo chicken from Planet Pizza, the Eastern European woman who gave me my second Hep A injection greeted me and shuffled me into her new office. I unloaded my issues.
“I’m looking to be the youngest person to visit every country. What else do I need other than the Yellow Fever vaccine?”
She explains the only thing I need is Yellow Fever, but recommends I get cholera, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis shots. I ask her how much these cost.
“They are quite expensive.” She taps a few things into her computer.
The spreadsheet on the screen breaks the bad news. The cheapest vaccine is the Yellow Fever at $303.00. Christ. I tell her that I will try not to get bitten by any dogs in India, and I will douse myself in Deet every morning my feet are on non-American, non-European soil. And should any of that soil get into a cut or scrape, I promise to get a tetanus booster as well.
Each time I walk into the travel clinic, I walk out with a ream of papers warning me of certain risks. Never has this discouraged me, and this time was no different. Though I did grow a bit worried. Am I running too much risk in not buying these shots? It would be at least another thousand dollars, which my insurance will no doubt refuse to reimburse, to get them.
The woman running the clinic wonders where I am going, and when I tell her “everywhere,” she is intrigued. I tell her I speak seven languages (which my therapists say I should be proud of, even though it isn’t technically true) and ask her in Russian if she speaks that language. She responds with a 'Da' and asks where I’ve been. I told her my last trip was Russia and the Baltics, and she asked which my favorite was. She had been in the Baltics and looked at those countries fondly. I agreed they were lovely, but didn’t press further as to where she was from. Was she one of the many ethnic Russians who lived in one of those countries, or one of the many more Russian-Russians who left the Motherland for a vacation, and felt most welcome in those colonially-Russophone nations.
I get my shot and walk out feeling accomplished, despite spending $303 to get a quarter-ounce of fluid in my arm. There is no turning back now; Africa here I come.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.