Dione, a Miami native who declined to give her last name, was in high school when she first heard of the vaccines from television commercials about six years ago. Her older sister, a physician, encouraged her to get vaccinated.
“I’m actually glad I was encouraged to do it, especially because you hear stories about people my age who have to go through scary moments and things that I’m glad I don’t have to go through because I got the shots,” said Dione, who is 24. “Whether or not someone wants to discuss that people in high school and college are getting sexually involved, even if a parent is squirmy about talking about it, they should.”
Spier empathizes with parents’ natural unease when talking about their children and sex.
“My approach is that, well, obviously we would all prefer our kids to delay sexual activity until they’re in a long-term committed relationship with someone with whom they plan to raise a family,” he said. “But the reality is that in today’s society the majority of the time it’s not what happens. We have to be responsible in limiting risk and exposure.”
Monica, a Miami mother who declined to give her last name, said that many of her friends who are also parents have expressed more concerns about the vaccine’s potential side effects than an uncomfortable sex talk. Like many vaccines, the HPV shots can be painful and many girls report feeling dizzy after receiving the shots.
Still, Monica said she was glad to follow her pediatrician’s advice to get the shots for her 13-year-old daughter.
“It made sense to me as a preventative measure,” she said. “I’m all for it if it can prevent cancer.”