Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“Do you need a lot of shots to go to Botswana?”

A simple chart plotting the ROI of going to various places based on how many shots you'll need and how likely it is you will find fossils there

A simple chart plotting the ROI of going to various places based on how many shots you’ll need and how likely it is you will find fossils there. Although I haven’t caught my daughter drawing this out, it is clearly the calculation going on in her head. (Image: Shala Howell)

I suppose this entry should really be titled, “Why did our daughter ask me how many shots she would need to go to Botswana?”, because that’s what my husband actually said when he came back downstairs after putting our four-year-old daughter to bed last night.

Once upon a time, my daughter’s invariable response to learning about any new place used to be the question, “Can we go there sometime?” But on her latest trip to the pediatrician, my daughter received a grand total of four shots. Two in each arm. This was a very traumatic experience for all involved.

Since the Day of the Very Many Shots, the appeal of traveling to a place has become inversely proportional to the number of extra shots required to travel there. While I haven’t actually caught her plotting out the Fossil ROI Per Shot Received ratio out in Excel yet, this is clearly the calculation that is going on in her head.

Some shot trauma is acceptable if there are fossils to be had

She seems to be willing to undergo some shot trauma in advance if she’s likely to come home from the trip bearing her very own freshly excavated and plaster-encased dinosaur fossil. By this metric, Texas; the Hell Creek Formation in Montana; Lyme Regis, England (where Mary Anning found her ichthyosaur at age 12 in the early 1800s); and DisneyWorld (no dinosaurs, but no shots either) all rate very highly on my daughter’s travel list.

Not too many shots, though

My daughter cringed when she learned she might have to get four more shots to go dinosaur hunting in Mongolia. But after a great deal of thought (and a second viewing of National Geographic’s Dinosaur Hunters, which makes it sound like dinosaur bones are just lying around in the Gobi Desert waiting for intrepid explorers to pack them up and take them home), she decided that if she could space the shots out, the opportunity to go collect some dinosaur bones in the Paleontological Heaven that is the Gobi Desert might just be worth it.


So what about Botswana?

At press time, there was no official word from my daughter regarding a trip to Botswana (which, by the way, would require four shots).


Per a comment received on Twitter from @Richyrich89 who is based in Botswana, apparently you may also need to take precautions for malaria if you’re planning to travel to the North West section of Botswana, which may or may not include a shot. So I suppose the number of shots my daughter would need would depend at least in part on where the bones are.


And in case it needs to be stated explicitly, if you go to the CDC’s travel site you will see more than 4 shots recommended for folks traveling to Mongolia, Botswana, etc. In coming up with the numbers for this post, I didn’t count the shots that my daughter had already received for one reason or another. (Also I added links to the CDC pages where I got my vaccination information in the above post for the curious.)

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