We were eating dinner, and my sister brought up the blue book that all families get for tracking the health of their child for the first few years. We got onto the subject of vaccinations, and I demanded the reasons for my lack of vaccination during high school, in particular the HPV vaccine. My mother got all huffy, saying that children had died from the vaccine [it’s as safe as any other vaccine, and 100 million doses have been administered worldwide with no major safety issues] and something about young teenagers being sexually active. Insinuating, I suppose, that getting an HPV vaccine would suddenly encourage the thirteen-year-old me to have sex with all the people. (For those that know me, you can now sit back and laugh at the possibility of that happening.) She went on to say that I shouldn’t question her choices, that it was all for my good.
I guess a sex-positive, or at least a sex-neutral attitude to parenting would be very difficult to expect from my parents. They never gave me the ‘birds and the bees’ talk; it would never occur to my father to even breach any sexual topic of conversation with me. It feels like just yesterday he was still covering the TV screen whenever any PG kissing was happening. My mother is all hush-hush about anything sexual or adult as well. Most notably, the only time she has ever told me anything about sex was when she blurted out, in the middle of driving, that I should save my virginity for the right boy and not sleep around. She doesn’t even like it when I use tampons.
I’m now figuring out when to get to the doctor and ask for the vaccine. I don’t remember what other vaccines I may have missed; I thought there were other times but that may have just been the booster shots for the HPV vaccine. It’s a strange feeling, the transition into adulthood. I don’t need my mother to be in there when I go to the doctor anymore. I don’t have to relay all my signs and symptoms to her. I’m now my own person, and I will get those vaccines, even if costs me $450 out-of-pocket. (I will have to budget for them first. I think it’s $150 per shot, one per month for three months.)