Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white... new year?

Hello world! It's New Year's Eve 2009. The dawn of a new year, a new decade is upon us... what better way to celebrate this new epoch and shovel snow, salt the driveway, and snuggle-up indoors? It might not be the most glamorous of get-togethers, but that's 2009 for you. There are two important factors in what we might call "everyday life" that have really made their way to the surface this year and these are fear and triumph.

It doesn't take much, I'm sure, to get you to think about what made you fearful this year. (There was quite a lot...) Not to use blanket statements that have lost meaning, but "the economy" was a huge stresser. For most people this broke down to- can we provide for our family? what will the future hold... does it matter if I make the right decisions now if they'll all be blown away in a day? Will my family be safe from disease; will they be healthy?
And then came the big questions, the questions that we don't like to ask ourselves- why did I take "the safe route" in my job, where I lived, when it all came apart anyway? Why didn't I do more of what I dreampt of and less of what I did because I was so stuck in the moment? Am I happy with  my life, with my choices, with my dreams?

That is the fear. And I don't care if you're 87 or you're 30, these questions crept into our everyday life in an unprecedented way and shook the foundations on which we lived.
Now I don't want to transition into an unbelievable pep-talk and make all the world's problems appear as rosy shadows in the summer. Because these are still *big* issues that we have to face as a collective. The only viable alternative to our consumption through fear is triumph.

Triumph means living, dreaming, fighting for a better life no matter what the consequences might be. Triumph means living in the moment and making decisions based on intellect, commitment to a fuller life, and embracing   the unknown in spite of everyday fear.
This is to say, if 2009 brought on the fear, then ring in the new decade with triumph. A triumphant life means more than pursuing emotional wisdom, travelling to the far reaches of Africa or Asia for entertainment (although these are great places to go!). A triumphant life, no matter how you cut it, boils down to your personal commitment to self-education.

If you're not happy with the messages that the media forces down your throat, find new sources of information. Read a philosophy book even if it's too difficult for you to understand. Write poetry even if it's bad, travel to the other side of the world and let yourself see what is really there... maybe it will help you understand what's really going on around here.

New Year's, no matter the cliche, is one of the rare times in life that we are invited to contemplate in our society. This year, at the conclusion of yet another decade, dare to ask yourself the real questions.

Maybe it means losing control of the everyday routine, maybe it means a mission-trip, maybe it means quitting your job and living off savings for a year in order to paint pinecones in Vermont.

I challenge you to listen to what you've really been telling yourself all along.
Maybe a night in is a good idea...
Happy New Year from all of us at Passport Health, I challenge you to make it the best one yet.

Signing off,


Friday, December 4, 2009

It's confirmed!

The date of the H1N1 clinic at the Pennington Quality Market will be Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 between 4 and 7pm.

Please visit the PQM to sign up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Upcoming Clinics!

This Friday, Passport Health is kicking off the holiday (and flu!) season with an H1N1 flu clinic at its Shrewsbury location. The clinic will begin at 10AM and will run through 1PM. Limited quantities are available, so make sure you email PPHNJ and sign up!

(See below for our email contact!)

All recipients must be over the age of six months old and must meet all of the CDC requirements (listed in previous post as well as on the CDC website).

The Shrewsbury clinic is first come first serve; the vaccination is free but there is a $22 administration fee.

But! There's good news! If you're not located near the Shrewsbury area office, we're coming to you! Passport Health will hold another H1N1 Flu Clinic in early December; same stipulations are applicable to recipients. Stay tuned for details.

There will be a pre-registration for the PQM at their location, beginning this Saturday.

And schedule an appointment to protect yourself and those you love from the flu this holiday season! Don't forget, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Email us!

No phone calls, please!

Passport Health New Jersey
555 Shrewsbury Ave
Shrewsbury, NJ

(photo credit:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Swine Flu Updates

As our Philly offices anxiously awaits the arrival of its H1N1 Flu vaccines, Passport Health has made quick and diligent work of protecting New Jersey against the harmful and quite unnerving virus. Just yesterday, Passport Health administered vaccinations at Pennington Quality Market--around 500 H1N1 vaccinations were given out.

As of November 10th, there have been two confirmed deaths related to H1N1, and many more cases. If you or your child are in the high risk groups for contracting the virus, it is imperative that you seek out immunization as soon as possible. According to federal regulations, the criteria for high-risk are the following:

Age: Children up to young adults (24 years old); this group is especially at risk because of its close quarters in schools and universities. 
Occupation: healthcare workers and care providers for young children are also strongly recommended to receive the vaccine. 
Health Conditions: individuals with health ailments and women who are pregnant should receive the H1N1 vaccine.

But, these high-risk groups aren't alone in facing the H1N1: it has even made its way to the New Jersey Nets!  Goes to show that you can never be too prepared--it could happen to anyone.

There have been numerous cases at the universities in New Jersey. Rutgers, the largest university in the state, has had an outbreak in recent weeks. (I go there, and you can't imagine how glad I was to be vaccinated in my French class last week when I heard the guy next to me whisper over my head "yeah... Swine Flu". Not to mention the ringing that resounded in my ears after leaving the computer labs--tissue boxes anchored to the tables, tissues to the noses; a symphony of sneezes, a cacophony of coughs. A nightmare, I tell you, life without H1N1 is a nightmare for the college student.) The virus has spread across the state in waves, first in small numbers and then with a sudden explosion in numbers, especially in urban and academic hot-spots where interpersonal contact and public transportation are unavoidable.

This year is proving to be *the* year to vaccinate against the flu...

Stay tuned for more information on up-coming clinics in your area!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The weather's getting cold in my mind... ICELAND!

There are some places that one has an affinity with. In his Sentimental Journey, Laurence Sterne hilariously (and pompously) borrows the French term avoir voyager. Wanderlust; the strongest current in our natural lives is the desire to travel. Waxing intellectual for *just* a moment, I think that travel is the sincerest way to fulfill the human desire of knowledge. And of course joy and aesthetic pleasure. That being said, the places that we're drawn to visit (maybe more than visit) say something about us as people...

And I know that I'm not being too selfish in an exposition on Iceland! A unique place in both geography and culture, Iceland has one of the most interesting histories and most beautiful geography in all the world. It shares neither the North American nor the European continental plates. It is the world's 18th largest island, but is one of the least densely populated areas of the globe. The current population is around 300,000 people, most of whom reside in the capital. The rest of the population lives in smaller cities along the coast of the island; they are connected by Ring Road. Geologically, Iceland is a hot bed of activity, abounding in geysers, volcanoes, as well as glaciers.

Iceland is also known for its tremendous artist population. Click here to get a taste of the local work. A visit to the galleries in Reykjavik is extremely rewarding! The music scene is also internationally known (the most famous musician, perhaps, is the singer Bjork!)...

Enjoy the pictures and if you find yourself inspired, why not plan a trip to Iceland. Life's short, and we all need to satisfy our wanderlust... what would Sterne say?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kolkata India: City of Pandals

India is a miasmic country with as many ethnic and cultural variations within its borders as most continents contain. There are 18 official languages in India and many more unofficial and orally-maintained indigenous ones, not to mention sharply distinct regional characteristics from all corners of this magnificent country. Attempting to discuss all of India’s charms and cultural must-sees is impossible in the scope of one teeny-tiny blog entry… today, I’d love to share the riches of Kolkata!

Kolkata (also known as Calcutta) is India’s third largest metropolis, and perhaps, the nation’s fine art capital. Kolkata’s astounding architectural feats, such as the Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Tipo Sultan Mosque are not empty sepulchers: the city is also well known for its musical and film cultural currents.

The city’s most famous Durga Puja festival is one of the most beautiful events held in Kolkata and usually falls in the month of October, though this year’s festival fell at the end of September 2009 (it is scheduled according to the traditional Hindi calendar). Its premise is the celebration of the Hindu goddess Durga, and includes the display of artists’ depiction of her, known as pandals.

Although the festival is widely practiced in the West Bengali region of India, Calcutta is home to the most opulent display with its adornment in lights and the nation’s largest collection of pandals; indeed, the celebration is noted as the Rio Carnival of the Eastern Hemisphere. In Kolkata specifically, the festival begins with thousands of people offering their prayers to their ancestors on the banks of the Ghats River. Songs and readings called Chandi and Aagamani welcome the goddess to the city in its early morning light. Once local drummers congregate and attract the population, the highly intricate puja rituals begin.

At night, after the official ceremonies, the city bursts with life and millions of national and international tourists flood the streets of light in order to feast on the beauty of the pandals. On the fourth and final day of the festival, the goddess is bade farewell until the next year, although no one really wants the goddess to leave…

And you won’t, either!

But for the foreign traveler, there are several health dangers and precautions to be noted and followed. Be sure that all of your general vaccines (such as MMR, varicella, polio, and DPT) are up-to-date before leaving. Also, if you will be leaving from a Yellow Fever zone before entering the country, India mandates that all travelers receive the Yellow Fever vaccine.
Call Passport Health for more information @ (732) 345-0029 and plan your trip to Kolkata!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Congrats Passport Health Philadelphia Delaware Valley! Grand Opening November 4, 2009:

Philadelphia; a city renowned for its wealth of arts, culture, business, and heritage. Its the home to the Liberty Bell, the *real* original Cheesesteak, and now, Philly is home to Passport Health as well! Located in Center City, we're here to serve the Philadelphia metro-area's every health and travel need...  

But for now, enough about us; here's a little bit about why we love Philly:

It's home to many of the nation's top universities, including the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Drexel, St. Joseph's, LaSalle, and of course, Philadelphia University. This educational hub has a high-volume of student travelers, in its own right. In addition to the medical and professional populations in the city, the need for optimum medical care is a clear-cut call for Passport Health!

We're coming to the city of the Rodin Museum, in case you get the urge to fly off to France after the late artist's works enchant you! The home of more sports arenas and events than one can imagine; the home of Benjamin Franklin, and the first hospital in the US. It's only natural that PPH is coming to Philadelphia: a metropolis of innovation, community, and culture; who could stay away for long?

As the date of PPH Philly Delaware Valley's *grand opening* on November 4th, 2009 draws near, we'll keep you posted!

To contact the Philadelphia Delaware-Valley Passport Health offices: 
Warrington 215-491-1111
Philadelphia 215-491-1111

Visit our website at

... And for now, I'll leave you with a little video tid-bit of our joy! 


Friday, October 2, 2009

Stay Tuned

Passport Health of New Jersey has a long standing reputation for cutting-edge medical care as well as prompt and reliable on-site vaccination clinics to the government and health services in our vicinity. Passport Health was responsible for vaccinating United States Postal men and women against Anthrax in Hamilton Township in addition to its administering vaccines to the United States Military after the September 11th attacks. 

We here at Passport Health are committed to preserving everyday health of New Jersey and Philadelphia-metro residents in encouraging citizens to receive their seasonal flu vaccine, not to mention during their time abroad.

And when crisis emerges, like this year's pandemic of H1N1, Passport Health of New Jersey is the first in the area to receive updates on the status of the H1N1 vaccine.

You can count on us! Stay tuned for frequent updates...


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Natasha's Journey

My friend Natasha does things a little differently than most other ducks. Originally from Los Vegas, a transplant to the East Coast environment of Rutgers University, there's something in her blood that thirsts for travel.

This summer, for example, Natasha spent the months of May and June in Spain. After a 48-hour lay-over in New Jersey (more specifically, my couch) and a trip to her storage unit, she switched out her luggage for some South American winter garments and headed for a six-week Latin-American Studies program in Bolivia.

The amazing stories that returned with my dear friend were beautiful, full of cultural experience and intellectual growth. The program focused on aid and advocacy to the local indigenous population. The views of the mountains and the rain forest were breathtaking, and the pictures she brought back proved her point!

But for all of the aesthetic magic that Bolivia offered, that is not to say it didn't have it's share of health risks. Thankfully, Natasha received her Yellow Fever vaccine from Passport Health before she left for Spain. "I can't believe I almost forgot to do it! I would have been out of luck if I tried to do it during the 48-hour period I stopped over in the U.S.," she said.

And she's right: although it is always better to receive the Yellow Fever than to go without (in fact, travelers aren't allowed to go to many areas of South America without it!) it is optimum if Yellow Fever vaccination is received ten days or more before the date of departure.

There are many stories; the story of the brick oven, the story of the out-house (oh, yes, but I will not explicate that here...) Needless to say, thanks to Passport Health, Natasha made it through safe and sound!

Travel needs vary widely from one area of South America to another; call (732) 345-0029 to schedule your personalized travel consultation with one of our specialists!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Breaking news: US goverment leads international flu vaccine donations

President Obama said in a press conference on September 17, 2009 that the United States would donate 10% of the swine flu vaccine that it has ordered. These donations, along with similar donations from European, South American, and Australian nations, gesture towards a global effort to control the spread of the disease in poorer regions of the world. Read more about this development here!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

PHNJ Close-up: Mary K. Cummings, R.N.

"I don't know what to say; I've been a nurse for 25 years!" says Mary K. Cummings, travel Passport Health Specialist in our Morristown Office.

After receiving her Associate's Degree from SUNY-Orange in 1984, and continued at Palm Beach Atlantic College. Mary K. is currently finishing her BSN (Bachelor's of Science and Nursing) at SUNY-Ulster.

She has worked in a variety of medical settings. In fact, Mary K.'s diversity in her professional experience is hard to match. These settings include: hospitals, prisons, home care, nursing homes, and camps, not to mention our Morristown location of Passport Health. In addition to her exemplary career, Mary K. has three children in college and loves weekend escapes to the Northeast.

"Even the [Norteast] is rewarding variety of geography and culture with this crazy schedule!" says Mary K. And if you didn't think it was jam-packed full of excitement yet, wait till you hear what she does for *fun*.

It's hard to find an adventurous, daring, breathtaking activity that Mary K. has not or will not try. Her feats against fear even include skydiving! She also has a passion for skiing, scuba diving, hiking, gardening, and entertaining in her home (in that order of declining physical demand).

Mary K. loves travel and adventure in all of its forms, making her a unique resource as a travel specialist!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Flu Over the Cookoo's Nest

This year, the craze for flu vaccination has reached an all-time high. This is attributable to different factors: increased population, growing unrest over H1N1, and the arrival of preservative-free vaccine.

Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that last year, 1,000 people died in that city from complications produced from the seasonal flu; while only 54 have died from complications from H1N1. These are important facts and perspectives to keep in mind in the 2009-2010 season.

In addition to preservative-free flu vaccines, Passport Health will offer the traditional vaccine, as well as the mist vaccine that comes in the form of a nasal spray.

What is this nasal spray, you say?

FluMist, like the traditional flu vaccine, is a live vaccine (it contains a weaker version of the virus). It is recommended for people between the ages of 2 and 49 years of age; click here to see if FluMist is right for you and your family!

The 2009-2010 Influenza Vaccine will include protection against three new strains of the flu that were known to cause particular misery among last year's sufferers, the Brisbane/10 being one.

September marks the mad rush for vaccination, it's important to make sure you've made your appointment at Passport Health to ensure your safety in the coming season.

No sneezes!,



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And then she had the flu...

No. Not me. Not right now. But there was a time, and a place, when I knew a girl who did. Like all mythic (and somewhat unbelievable... but ultimately true) New Jersey folklore, this one is for the annals of flu history!
Forget about 1918, The Great Scourge has nothing on my cousin's best friend Maggie. To borrow a line from Golden Girls, "picture it!" Red Bank, the winter of 2007...

At the time, Maggie was still a full-time student at Rutgers University. It was her third year, it was her hardest year, and it was finals-season. So, naturally, the girl was run-down. She was low-down, and she was packed into trains, lecture halls, and (industrial-sized) dining halls like a sardine bathed in germy, wintery misery. And with the first flakes of snow, Maggie's immune system tanked into the red. The girl had the flu.

And for any readers out there who didn't have the flu in 2007, it was *not* a good year.

"The aching," she said. "The aching was more than I could take. A good puke now and then... tolerable, understandable. But my body hurt too much to leave my bed for five days, straight. Finally, my boyfriend mustered the courage to visit me on what felt like my deathbed, only to flee in terror. I didn't know I looked that bad. Long story short, I had to reschedule three final exams, quarantine myself away from friends and family, and miss the biggest Christmas party of the season. A few of my friends got me those germ stuffed animals; The Black Plague. I felt really good about myself."

So, friends, how can you avoid this hideous fate? Get a flu shot! I know what you're thinking... "Worldbloc, it's August! You need to relax!" Oh, but how can I, after Maggie? How can any of us really rest assured, knowing that flu season is encroaching on our joyous summer days, lurking in the shorter days, just around the corner?

Officially, flu season doesn't kickoff for a couple of months, but the prudent student, parent, and human being know when to sign up for their dose of misery protection. (That time is now, folks!) And to make it all the better, Passport Health of New Jersey is now offering preservative-free flu vaccine. So call up your ol' friends at Passport Health @ (732) 345-0029, and tell them you don't want the Maggie's this year.

You'll be so glad you did...


Thursday, August 13, 2009

First-class medical care for travel, anywhere!

We here at Passport Health New Jersey are very excited about our entrance into the weblog community. This is Worldbloc, and I'll be your blogger for the duration of your stay. The first order of business: why does travelling smart mean travelling with PHNJ?

Well, there's a story to answer that...

It began with a bagel in Seoul and ended in a bathroom stall in Phnom Phen. New Year's Eve 2009, I met up with eighteen college-aged women at JFK airport around 10PM. After about an hour of waiting for our primary guide to arrive from the Union of Myanmar (Burma) after a stint of field reporting, we spotted her from across the concourse. Her bedraggled body shivered like a leaf in a blizzard under the hollow, yellow lights. But she swung her teal and fushia pashmina back with determination. We boarded the plane, slightly stirred but not shaken.

... Until we realized that our layover in Seoul was for twelve hours and thirty-two minutes, and not thirty-two minutes. It was twelve degrees that morning, which was New Year's morning, and almost none of us were prepared to face the cold. But we made the best of it, loaded a bus and headed for the Capitol City, proper.

The sunrise on the road between Incheon and Seoul was breathtaking. The hills were frosted over in a magnificent shade of blackish-green in front of the red-orb sun, still low in the pale orange sky. Buildings propped up against the horizon in a way I had never seen in America.

Several of my friends opted to try the fried silk-worms served on the street... between that and the whipping winds that day, they were not happy campers on the second half of our journey. Our guide certainly was not looking any better at customs in Siem Reap.

At this point, I should mention the arsenal of PHNJ supplies I carried with me: everything from a Steri-Pen to a whiz to about 4875 band-aids. In the beginning, some of the girls laughed when I sterilized each and every bottle of water on the trip; by the end, everyone asked to use it. (Sometimes, I still whip it out at Rutgers!)

The weather in Cambodia was wonderful. From the moment we stepped off the plane, the air smelled of sweet incense and spices. Our guide did not seem to enjoy the fragrance, and spent the majority of the following day in bed, or asleep at our table. She was so ill by the third day of our trip that she was med-evaced out of the country (and ended up having brain snails... ew)!

There we were, in Southeast Asia, without our guide. And then my roommate got sick. At first, it was just a "little bug" in her system, but by the time we reached Phnom Phen, whatever she had swept over the up-stairs of our guest-house like the Black Plague. Needless to say, I was terrified. But I never fell prey to illness! Band-aids, alcohol wipes, whiz (so glad I brought that!), and so many other items saved my trip and really helped the people I was with. I would not have traded my experience for anything!

Unfortunately, I can't say the same for my friend. I had the unlucky job of ushering her into the bathroom of the Phnom Phen Airport (an hour before our flight) as she vomited into a clear plastic bag for all to see. The plane ride home wasn't pleasant, either...

Would I call these little mishaps a deterrent to world travel? Absolutely not. The experience made me realize that *life* happens no matter what you do, and sometimes things don't go as planned (and sometimes they go downright wrong!). Preparation and precaution salvaged my trip and ensured my health in Cambodia. The supplies and education I received from working at Passport Health New Jersey really did make the difference, and I am more than certain that it will for you, as well.

Wishing healthy (adventurous, astonishing, wonderful!) travels,