Before traveling to South America in 2001 my arm was jabbed with more needles than I can remember. It was horrible for someone who is a bit of a needle phobe and tends to faint.

Some of the countries I was going to mandated I have certain shots. Yellow fever being one. Other vaccinations came at the recommendation of the federal government and Sonoma County Public Health Department (where I was living at the time)—like hepatitis B (which is a dose of three shots) and hepatitis A (two doses).

Showing proof of vaccination is not a new concept. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The only aspect of questioning if I would be inoculated were:  Could I handle all those shots? and Was traveling to countries with these requirements worth it? Let me tell you, the questioning was momentary. I wanted to travel.

I had a ticket into Peru with Machu Picchu one of the first destinations and a return flight to the U.S. out of Venezuela. What I would do with the nearly four months in between was to be discovered when I arrived on the continent. The shots were worth all the experiences I had and memories I cherish to this day.

I was in my 30s. It’s not like I was a kid or under parental control. I was thinking for myself when it came to getting vaccinated. It was simple—I didn’t want to get any of the diseases the vaccines were to prevent. And I didn’t.

I was given a yellow vaccination card that I still have. The outside of it says the certificate is approved by the World Health Organization. It has my name on it. At the bottom is the seal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Inside the health official wrote the date of the shot, type of vaccine, doses and stamp of physician’s signature. I can’t read all of the vaccine names, but guessing a medical professional could figure it out.

This card is with other medical information that I keep handy. Also among these records is my COVID-19 vaccination record card. In the last week I got my electronic version of this last shot in case I need it because I don’t carry the card with me.

I’m guessing people who don’t travel internationally are more put off by the thought of having to show a vaccination record for COVID-19 than others are. It’s not a violation of any of your rights. You have the right not to go that venue, business, even school that says get the shot or stay away. That venue, business, school has the right to protect its patrons/students from you, the unvaccinated.

I’m not telling you to get vaccinated, not in this missive any way. All I’m saying is there are consequences to actions, or inaction as the case may be. Not being vaccinated comes with limits. Former neighbors started home schooling their daughter because she didn’t have a certain vaccine. Remember, just as it’s your choice not to be vaccinated, it’s my choice to applaud businesses that require proof of vaccine before being allowed in.

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