False Security

We offer travel medicine services in the office. I did a graduate program in tropical medicine and parasitology, and I’ve always had an interest in infectious disease. People come to my office to get vaccinated for yellow fever or typhoid or to get medication to prevent them from getting malaria. Travel vaccination makes sense and it’s something that a smart traveler would be remiss to ignore, but I always make sure that I point out to prospective travelers that they are far less likely to get malaria than they are to be injured in a car accident while traveling. I want to be sure that they realize that the shot I just gave them is not going to protect them if they get mugged while walking alone in a dangerous area of Bangkok at 3 AM.

There are a lot of easy things we can do to protect out health. But we need to be cognizant of the reality that getting a mammogram or an influenza vaccination is not a substitute for the harder-to-do things like eating well, exercising, and remembering to wear a seat belt.

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