Your Preteens and Teens Need Vaccines Too!
Beat the back-to-school rush! Make an appointment for vaccinations before the back-to-school rush begins at the doctor's office.
While your preteens and teens are thinking about all the fun things they'll be doing this summer, you're probably thinking about keeping them healthy and safe. When you're planning trips to get new swimsuits and sunscreen, make an appointment for vaccinations before the back-to-school rush begins at the doctor's office. Vaccines can help our kids stay healthy, and most states require certain vaccinations before school starts again in the fall.
There are four vaccines recommended for preteens and teens—these vaccines help protect your children, their friends, and their family members. 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. Teens may also need a booster of a vaccine that requires more than one dose to be fully protected.
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 [478 KB].
What are the Vaccines for Preteens and Teens?
The following vaccines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), other medical societies, and CDC:
- HPV vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines help protect both girls and boys from HPV infection and cancers caused by HPV. HPV vaccine protects girls from the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancer. HPV vaccine also helps protect both girls and boys from anal cancer and genital warts. Girls and boys should start and finish the HPV vaccine series when they are 11 or 12 years old. Preteens and teens who have not gotten all HPV shots should ask their doctor or nurse about getting them now.
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) protects against some of the bacteria that can cause meningitis (swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (an infection in the blood). Meningitis can be very serious, even fatal. Preteens need the meningococcal shot when they are 11 or 12 years old and then a booster shot at age 16. Teens who got the meningococcal shot when they were 13, 14, or 15 years old should still get a booster at 16 years. Older teens who haven't gotten any meningococcal shots should get one as soon as possible.
- Tdap vaccine
Tdap vaccine protects against 3 serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also called whooping cough). The Tdap vaccine takes the place of what used to be called the tetanus booster. Preteens should get Tdap at age 11 or 12. If your teen didn't get a Tdap shot as a preteen, ask their doctor or nurse about getting the shot now.
- Flu vaccine
Flu vaccine protects against flu and the other health problems flu can cause, like dehydration (loss of body fluids), making asthma or diabetes worse, or even pneumonia. Preteens and teens should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it's available, usually in the fall. 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 preteens and teens.
Adolescent Vaccines are Safe and Effective
The vaccines for preteens are very safe. Some kids might have some mild side effects from shots, such as redness and soreness in the arm. 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 fainting. Most side effects from vaccines are very minor, especially compared with the serious diseases that these vaccines prevent.
Be sure to check with the doctor to make sure that your teen has received all of the vaccines recommended for them. They may need to "catch up" on vaccines they might have missed when they were younger.
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 or under-insured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native.
- Page last reviewed: May 27, 2014
- Page last updated: May 27, 2014
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs