Medical Examination · Dec 10, 02:39 PM

Today I have an appointment to have a medical examination required as part of the process of getting the paperwork I need to stay in the country. The whole thing is pretty odd. On the one hand, there are several so-called diseases of public health significance (I’ll call them DOPHS). They are

active tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, infectious syphilis, chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, and Hansen’s disease

Notice the prevalance of sexually transmitted diseases? (They also want to keep out drug addicts, alcoholics and the insane and/or mentally retarded.)

There’s a question on the I-94W form that asks if you have ever had a DOPHS. I wondered if I should answer yes as I have had measles. Well, it turns out I was right to answer no, because measles is not a DOPHS, at least according to immigration law.

Another large part of the examination has to do with vaccinations and whether they are all up to date. As befits someone my age I’m vaccinated against smallpox and polio, two horrible diseases but both as good as eradicated. So guess what, they don’t actually care if I’ve had those vaccinations or not. All those smallpox jabs I got when I was little are for nought in 2004.

On the other hand, they might tell me I need vaccinations for tetanus ($30), MMR ($70) and varicella (chicken pox, $120).

I have mixed feelings about this kind of we-know-what’s-good-for-you social engineering. On the one hand, it’s just what kids have to go through anyway. On the other hand, it feels like an intrusion. Just because I want to live with my wife all these people feel they have a right to examine my privates and poke sharp needles into me. (By the way, I have this thing about sharp needles…)

Ah well, I think this is one of those times, like going through passport control at an airport, where you have to detach yourself from the situation, do as they ask, don’t ask awkward questions or cause problems and get on with life.