You probably know that April 7 is World Health Day (#WorldHealthDay), but did you know that this awareness day was started by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has been celebrated annually since 1950?
Each year, the WHO aims to bring worldwide attention to a particular theme, and this year, it’s “Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.
”While this clearly seems apropos of our current global pandemic, they also note on their website that despite major health gains across the planet in recent years, there are far too many for whom those gains have been undercut. Health is not simply about exercise, nutrition, and mental wellbeing. It is strongly tied to issues of shelter and food insecurity, access to clean water, poverty, and inequities related to gender, social and community connection, and basic access to healthcare.
The WHO believes in this constitutional principal: “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
I have been fortunate throughout my life to have good access to healthcare and the wherewithal to make choices that benefit my wellbeing and that of my family. I haven’t become impoverished by crushing medical expenses, and I haven’t had to make dire choices between paying for medications and paying my for bills, my mortgage, or groceries—but I have plenty of friends and family who have.
I’ve also experienced various levels of medical care in several countries in Europe, in Asia, in the Caribbean, and in Central and South America. For me, it was always a helpful experience, and it was always easy and relatively cheap. Sometimes it can be too easy for any of us to take health for granted, in small ways and in major ways. But anyone who has suffered from even just a rotator cuff injury—let alone a heart attack, a broken bone, hearing loss, psychological trauma, cancer, or countless other ailments or diseases—knows how precious health and our very lives are.
Now, as a worldwide community of people, of humans, of living souls, of very mortal beings…we know what it’s like to be at the mercy of a microscopic thing that is 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a single strand of human hair. And it makes me feel profoundly thankful and deeply indebted to the frontline healthcare workers and volunteers who braved each day over the past 13+ months to tend to and care for the infirm and the dying; to the scientists and leaders of numerous industries in the private sector and governmental agencies who took on the daunting task of finding smart ways to teach people (and encourage compassion) to protect not only themselves but also their families, neighbors, and total strangers; to all manner of essential workers who put their own health at risk to provide the services and goods that all of us need and want.
I earnestly feel that I owe it to them—and to all the other 7.6 billion people on this planet—as a member of this global and interconnected society, to do my part, to protect myself so that I can be a part of the solution that helps others, so that we can all move forward through this health crisis and its harrowing effects on our communities, our livelihoods, and our personal wellbeing.
In that spirit, I did get both of my Covid vaccine shots (thank you CVS), the first in March, the second earlier this month (as a credentialed teacher in California, I qualified for an early tier). So did my husband (also a teacher) and my in-laws. We’re doing what we can to maintain healthy environments for our households and to prevent doing unintentional health harm to our loved ones, friends, and anyone else we encounter by following proper city, county, state, and CDC-recommended safety protocols.
And I know we’re not alone in this. So many of you are taking smart measures to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your circles. Rick Steves is now fully vaccinated, Sarah Murdoch of Adventures with Sarah got her first jab yesterday, and many of my Guide Collective and Rick Steves’ Europe colleagues have either gotten one or both of the shots. And here are some interesting statistics, as of April 7, 2021:
Total Administered Vaccine Doses
• San Diego County | 1.9 million
• California | 20.4 million
• Louisiana | 2.1 million
• Washington State | 4 million
• Arkansas | 1.3 million
• Ohio | 5.9 million
• Massachusetts | 4 million
• United States | 219 million
• United Kingdom | 31 million
• European Union & European Economic Union | 84 million
• Russia | 12.4 million
• Brazil | 22.8 million
• China | 140 million
• Africa | Unknown
• India | 87 million
• Australia | 854,983
• Worldwide | 693 million
Fully Vaccinated (total or percent of population)
• San Diego County | 625,632
• California | 7.4 million
• Louisiana | 855,232
• Washington State | 1.5 million
• Arkansas | 489,479
• Ohio | 2.2 million
• Massachusetts | 1.5 million
• United States | 63 million
• United Kingdom | 5.5 million
• European Union & European Economic Union | 4.9%
• Russia | 3.5 million (as of March 15)
• Brazil | 2.4% • China | Unknown
• Africa | 70,000• India | .81%
• Australia | Unknown
• Worldwide | Unknown
(sources: SanDiegoCounty.gov, KPBS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Becker’s Hospital Review, BBC News, Politico, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, statista.comStatista, Reuters, New York Times ):
There are a lot of positive things to read into these data, but it would naive to think global herd immunity will happen anytime soon. And maybe we need to learn to be OK with that for the time being. Although this virus spread like wildfire, the fixing of the economic and societal damage it wreaked, the mental/emotional/physical healing we need to do individually and across all cultures and demographics, and the transition into a re-opened world is simply going to take time.
And that is exactly what we’ve been given: time—along with the power, possibility, and choice to do what we must to get to the other side of this. If we so choose, we have the chance to get it right. We can do this—for our own sake and to build “a fairer, healthier world for everyone.”
Journey Well. Live Well. Be Well. And let’s all take care of each other out there.
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Oh, and don’t forget: Krispy Kreme is thanking people who have received at least 1 of the 2 Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or the 1 shot in the case of Johnson & Johnson) and show proof of vaccination card one free Original Glazed Donut per day through December 31, 2021.
I’m not so ridiculous as to get one everyday (I just lost 20 lbs and refuse to find them again), but I won’t balk at one a month. I earned it!
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p.s. I’m so ready to travel! Anyone want to join me? You can check out my tour offerings for late 2021 and through 2022 at www.thetravelphile.com/tours. And if you have any questions about those itineraries or a customized tour, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.