Tuesday, May 12, 2015

brave new world: Vaccine Checkpoints at International Terminals and Disneyland

The plane has finally touched down in LAX after a long journey across the country and over an ocean. You and your spouse are exhausted. All you want to do is get to your hotel room, order room service and put the kids to bed. But, your kids have another idea - they are practically racing down the gangway, shouting "Disneyland, Disneyland!"

You can't help but feel their excitement, but you know the destination is still a bit far off. You and your family must still make it through customs, gather your baggage, find transportation...and, what's this, a medical checkpoint? 

You read about this before travelling, but wasn't quite sure what it would actually involve. You see several stations with medical personnel looking over documents, referring to diagrams and checking and re-checking paperwork. Off to the side, you see what looks to be a patient holding area, already crowded with people from around the world, of all ages, from infants to great grandmas. There are several nurses at other stations within this area administering various injections. There are stretchers, IVs, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, medicine cabinets - a regular field hospital right there in the airport.

As you and your family shuffle toward the first station, you dig for your medical documentation. At the last second, you realize you can't find the shot record for your 6yo. You start rifling through everything, EVERYTHING, every bag, crevice, nook, cranny, hoping it is here. It must be here! You know what this means if you can't find it. Shots. All of them.

It's not there, you realize. You start discussing your options with your spouse. It's really two choices: return to your home country or have your 6yo get injected with the "minimum 6" and continue your trip to Disneyland. You both decide to go ahead with the injections, what could go wrong? If it's mandated, it must be safe, right?

Your 6yo is visbily upset, tears streaming down her face. You tell her it will be okay, that she will see Elsa and all the princesses very soon and go on "It's a Small World," anything to distract her.

After waiting for what seems like hours upon hours, the injections go off without a hitch. You continue on your way, retrieve your luggage, get the rental car and you are off to the hotel...finally. All is well, right?

As you drive up to the hotel, you realize your 6yo has been really quiet the whole ride from the airport. You feel her forehead and she's burning up. After getting settled in the room, you give her Tylenol and pray her fever goes down. She seems restless all night long...and so are you. Morning comes and you and your spouse are both exhausted from being up all night, holding a cold compress to your daughter's head.

As you pour a cup of mediocre hotel coffee, you both realize Disneyland will not be on the agenda today.

* * * 

The Measles Outbreak at Disneyland in California in 2014 and 2015 spurred a rash of legislation fed by public fears of un-vaccinated individuals. Despite numerous attempts by Civil Rights activists to block this legislation, the laws passed. Local, state, federal and supreme courts are flooded with lawsuits, but the law remains. Mandatory vaccinations for everyone.

It started with school children, but outbreaks continued annually and a small, but barely majority public cried for further vaccine laws. The diseases must be coming from out of the country, they said. 

The International Disease Immunization Operation for Tourism, or IDIOT, was enacted in 2019, despite opposition from many of our International Allies. It created medical checkpoints at every International Terminal in the United States, with additional checkpoints at all borders to be established NLT 2030.

Because of the media attention, some of the most popular tourist destinations, like Disneyland, took it upon themselves to create additional checkpoints prior to admission into their establishments, even administering vaccines on the spot as needed.

The unvaccinated now live in the shadows, off the grid. Communes have popped up all over, welcoming those shunned by society, wanting to live a more natural lifestyle. Many baby boomers remark that it feels a bit reminiscent of the Sixties. The country is dividing, deeper and deeper. Others feel it is a bit reminiscent of the unrest before the Civil War. Either way, a revolution is on the horizon. Where do we go from here?

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