Disclaimer: 1) You can actually skip the first few paragraphs, focus on the bolded sentences, and go towards the end. 2) The pics I post here are actually of the brochure I got from the doctor in my Campus Health Center. It’s made based on the guidance by CDC/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
June 8, 2020
I went to Campus Health Center to get my first shot of HPV Vaccine. It was hot outside. I left my apartment around 1.40pm and walked. The Campus Health Center was close to where I lived so I thought I wouldn’t be late. My appointment was at 2pm but they wanted me to check in at 1.45pm. And, I was around 5 minutes late.
When I arrived, I was confused because the “office” for immunization section said it was closed. But I did make a call on the previous Friday and was told to come on Monday at 2pm with a check-in at 1.45pm. Well, I was late but it wasn’t even 2pm so it’s not possible for them to have already closed, right? So I tried to call them again. That was when a lady asked what I came there for. It turned out that they centralized the Campus Health Center in the pharmacy section, probably because of Covid19 pandemic.
I told them I had an appointment at 2pm for HPV vaccine. They asked me my name, birthdate, and such, you know, the basics. They also told me some Covid19-related questions, you know, things like whether or not I’d had experienced high fever and/or cough and whether I’d been in a possible contact with someone having Covid19, etc., to which I must answer NO. And no was my answers. Well, I’d been home for weeks, right? A friend occasionally came to my place but we did keep our physical distance, so I guess it was safe.
The staff then checked my body temperature, you know, with that device put close to the forehead. She said it was high, i.e. 100.2F/37.89C, but she understood that it might be because I had been walking outside, and it was summer, so of course it was hot. She told me to sit somewhere and cool down until my name was called. I spent some time, still outside. Then she called me again and checked my temperature again and said that instead of going down it actually went up. She didn’t tell me how much, but she told me to sit and wait again.
Later another nurse/doctor/staff (not sure what to call her) came and checked my temperature with different device, this one should be put inside my mouth, under my tongue. It showed that my temperature was 99.7F/37.61C . She said it was fine, the temperature outside might be hot, but my internal temperature was okay. I felt relieved. Not that I was worried because I usually had high temperature, so I really didn’t think that I was sick. I felt really healthy. I mean, I think I’m the “hot-blooded” type so for me to have “high temperature” I thought it was normal.
So they asked me to go upstairs for my vaccine, and so I did. I had to do another check-in. They asked me to fill out the questionnaire in the website. Well, basically it was questions about my health condition in general, you know, things like whether someone in my family or I had certain diseases, whether I was allergic to certain things, whether I experienced some dizziness, fainted, or such after taking certain medicines, etc. And I guess it was fine. I mean, I really felt healthy, and I hardly took any medicines. Gotta help my body generate the antibody, right? :p
Well, the questionnaire was completed, and I had to wait until the doctor called me. And then she called me and escorted me to her office. She recalled that I had visited before to get my flu shot. She just wanted to make sure that this was my first shot for HPV, and not the second because in the previous visit I said I wanted to get HPV vaccine too but I ended up getting only flu shot. It was because HPV vaccine was not given in one shot. I had to get another shot, the second one, one or two months after the first shot. And at that time I had to go back to Indonesia to collect data for my dissertation research so I decided to have the HPV vaccine after I returned from my country, and here I was.
I told her that I wasn’t sexually active because in my previous visit she asked me about that. (Actually I didn’t remember if it was the same doctor or not, but I guess things were recorded in my medical record? I don’t know). But I just had to make sure that I had the right understanding about being “not sexually active” so I asked if it meant I’ve never had sex. And she said yes, i.e. being sexually active means you have had sex, sexual intercourse with penetration or skin genital contacts such as “rubbing”. (I’m feeling uncomfortable explaining this because this topic can be considered taboo in my place. Hikz). But you know I’m conservative, I’ve never had sex ‘cause I’m not married yet. My religion teaches me to have sex only with my legal spouse, lawfully and religiously. So, there you have it. The doctor might be wondering why I’m not sexually active or have never had sex at this age. LoL But she said, HPV vaccine is good for someone who has never been exposed to “sex” because if someone had the vaccine after they were exposed to it, i.e. after they have experienced sex, the vaccine might not work as well as if it was given before the exposure. That’s why on average, this vaccine is given to adolescents around 11-12 years old. Well, maybe because sex before marriage in the US is pretty common? I don’t know. I know in my country it is lowkey prohibited, i.e. it was against the norms, though I’m not so sure right now anymore ‘cause it seems that more people feel okay to have sex before marriage, so I don’t know. No judging, though. I’m just not used to it. So maybe I’m really such an old school…
Anyway, the shot was given so quickly. The doctor said I could choose any arms, but I preferred to have it on my left arms. So there I had it. On my upper left arm, a bit high near the shoulder. I could barely feel any pain. It was really like a sting. So maybe the doctor was a pro? I don’t know, but I wonder why kids are often scared of getting injected. Was I that scared too? Haha I wonder.
The doctor said that I had to come back for the second shot at the fastest on July 8, and then for the last shot 6 months after the first shot. She then escorted me outside and told me to stay and wait for around 10-15 minutes before leaving the clinic in case I experienced dizziness or felt like fainting. Well, not trying to be arrogant, but I seriously doubted it. I guess I was too confident about my body’s strength. But I did as I was told anyway. And after around 10 minutes, I left because I really felt fine and I also needed to go to Fry’s to fetch some toilet paper and stuff. LoL
So, well, why did I decide to get HPV vaccine?
Well, I think it started some long time ago when a lot of people shared about the danger of cervical cancers and such. And I read that it is caused by HPV (Human papillomavirus), and people could be infected through sexual contacts. And one way to try to prevent it is by getting the HPV Vaccine. So I checked if it was covered by my student insurance or not. (I have student insurance with Aetna, which is made obligatory by my campus). I mean, if it was covered, why not making full use of it, right? I checked that it was quite expensive in my country. And though I still don’t know whether I’m going to get married someday or not, I’m just wondering if I’d be required to get the vaccine when I’m about to get married later. That’s why I was thinking of getting the shots here in the US.
Unfortunately, when I first thought about getting HPV here, I found that it was fully covered only if the student was not more than 25 y.o. I was disappointed because at that time I was past that age ☹ Fortunately, when I came to the clinic to get my flu shot and asked bout HPV vaccine, the doctor told me that Aetna just changed their policy and that they now fully cover HPV vaccines until 45yo. I was so happy. That’s why I was determined to get one. While it’s “free”, right? I mean, my sponsor always paid for my health insurance because it was compulsory, it would be a waste if I didn’t use it :p I mean, I have no intention to use it when I am sick (I try to not get sick), so I guess it’s best to use it to prevent certain diseases, i.e. by getting vaccines 😉
“But, why? Are you not worried about the side effects or such? You’re not sexually active anyway. And you might not get married, perhaps you’ll never have sex, hence you don’t actually need it.” Some of you might have these questions. Well, I asked myself the same questions, being a health freak I am. LoL But ugh, I used to be worried about whether or not the vaccine materials were halal or not, because people back at home often problematize it, but getting here I am like, “Well, it’s for medical purposes, it should be okay.” And if there’s any side effect I’m worried about, well, if I’m married later, I want to have kids, so I was kinda worried if it would somehow make it harder to get pregnant or such, but the doctor said it had nothing to do with it. So I guess it’s safe and I don’t have to worry about it.
So why getting the vaccine when I’m not sexually active? Well, I don’t know why but the world seems scarier than it seemed before. There are rapists out there, right? If I somehow get raped, heaven forbids, at least I’ve protected myself from the possibility of getting such sexual diseases that might be caused by unwanted sexual contacts. I know the fact that I’m open to this possibility is somehow crazy if not creepy, but if I’m not open to that possibility, it can be dangerous too. And you know I love to play safe. Also, when it comes to health, prevention is always better than trying to get the cure or having treatment, right?
And, well, I want to get married someday, and I don’t know what kind of person I’ll marry. Well, they say a good girl will get a good guy. Not sure if I’m a good girl, but if never having sex before marriage makes me a good girl, I’m supposed to marry a virgin too, no? But, well, seeing how the world has turned, it’s also possible that my future husband, perhaps, will have had sex with several girls before and might potentially spread the disease, we’ll never know. It won’t make him a bad person, I know. I mean, every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past, right? So, if I end up marrying such a person, at least I’ve done my part protecting myself. So yeah, I guess I’m getting the vaccine because I made it my responsibility to at least protect myself. So I’m just doing my part. Let’s hope I’ll never get such a disease, though. (Also, topics around sex including sexual health and education are still kinda taboo at home. I don’t want people to question me or give me accusing or judging looks if I am to get the vaccines there. Some of them might think I’m sexually active when I’m not, and I won’t like that. That’s why I feel safer and more comfortable getting it here).
PS: When I called to make the appointment, they asked me to come wearing a mask, otherwise they’d give me one. Well, actually I wanted them to give me a mask (I love free items! LOL) but because I had my own mask, they didn’t give me any. Hhe But maybe their mask is for one-time use only, so it doesn’t really matter…
Update 1: I got my second shot on July 13, 2020. It felt more sore than the previous shot 😐 Also, the doctor (or the nurse?) told me that I’d get my third/last shot after December 8, 2020.
Update 2: I finally got my last shot on December 11, 2020.