Day 647: Immunizations and Other Funny Stories

The other day a documentary film student coming to this week's Mt. Kilimanjaro marathon with Hope Runs was chatting with me about her recent immunizations for travel to Africa. After receiving a shot for Yellow Fever to prep her to leave the wilds of Chicago, the nurse explained carefully that the filmmaker would have to actually show her immunization card at the border when she crossed from Kenya into Tanzania with the Hope Runs kids, coaches, and other tag-a-longs.

The filmmaker mentioned this to me, rightly suggesting I bring my card, and rightly asking about the kids. There was a moment of panic, in which I felt that I actually had to deal with this issue. Then, though, I began laughing, understanding that this was simply a complication that - should it arise - we could do absolutely nothing about anyway.

The reason is as follows:

Since most all of our runners have no birth certificates, there has been a nightmare on the ground trying to get the appropriate identification cards to actually leave the country of Kenya and enter Tanzania in the first place. Given this as-of-yet unsolved situation, and the general lack of Yellow Fever vaccines amongst the population of Kenyans, records of immunizations that have not occurred are pretty far down on the list.

Besides, in 2006 Lara and I did a fine job crossing into Cambodia from Vietnam when this very issue came up. Lara has no immunization card (and it's always been frankly unclear to me if she even has ever been immunized for anything) and so there was nothing to show the passport guard who demanded it to enter Cambodia. I first told the guard that Lara did not have one, and I tried to bribe him. When that did not work, I then explained that I had actually just found hers, and I handed him the one I had that expired when I was ten.

He was already holding my up-to-date immunization card at the time.

So, with two immunization cards for Claire A. Williams, Lara and I entered the country of Cambodia supposedly disease-free.

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