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Vaccinate Your Preteen This Summer

Group of preteensMost preteens get their shots in the month of August before school begins. Make an appointment to get your child vaccinated this summer and beat the back-to-school rush!

There are four vaccines recommended for preteens to help protect your children, as well as their friends and family members from serious illness. While your kids should get a flu vaccine every year, the three other preteen vaccines should be given when kids are 11- 12 years old.

What vaccines are recommended for my preteen?

Boys and girls should get the following vaccines when they are 11 or 12 years old:

  • HPV vaccine
    Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines help protect against HPV infections that cause cancer. All boys and girls should finish the HPV vaccine series (three shots) before their 13th birthday.
  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine
    Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that can cause infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). These illnesses can be very serious, even fatal.
  • Tdap vaccine
    Tdap vaccine protects against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
  • Flu vaccine
    Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October if possible. It is very important for preteens and teens with chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu shot, but the flu can be serious for even healthy kids.

Any visit to the doctor— from an annual health checkup to a physical for sports, camp, or college—can be a good time for preteens and teens to get the recommended vaccinations. Even if your child is going to the doctor because they are sick or hurt, they still may be able to get shots that they need. Before visits to the doctor, review this easy-to-read version of the Recommended Immunizations for Children from 7 through 18 Years Old [PDF - 478KB].

Be sure to check with the doctor to make sure that your preteen is up-to-date on all the vaccines they need. They may need to "catch up" on vaccines they might have missed when they were younger.

Some preteens and teens may faint after getting a shot or any other medical procedure. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes after getting shots can help prevent injuries that could happen if your child were to fall from fainting. Most side effects from vaccines are very minor—such as redness or soreness in the arm—especially compared with the serious diseases that these vaccines prevent.

Need help paying for vaccines?

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. If you don't have insurance, or if it does not cover vaccines, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be able to help. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger, who are not insured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

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