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Which Vaccines Do Preteens and Teens Need, and When?

All preteens (age 11 or 12 years) need an annual flu vaccine and

  • 1 dose of Tdap vaccine,
  • 2 doses of meningococcal vaccine, and
  • 3 doses of HPV vaccine.

These 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 cancers caused by HPV. Girls and boys should start and finish the HPV vaccine series when they are 11 or 12 years old. Teen and young adults through age 26 who have not received the HPV shots should ask their doctor or nurse about getting them now.

Meningococcal vaccine
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine 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.

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.

Mom with children

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.

If your child has a chronic illness, other health conditions, or a higher risk for some vaccine-preventable diseases (such as pneumococcal disease), the doctor may recommend additional vaccine protection. To assist you with determining exactly which vaccines your child might need, use this online Adolescent and Adult Vaccine Quiz.

How Can I Get My Preteen or Teen Vaccinated?

Preteens and teens typically see their doctors or other health care professionals for physicals before participation in sports, camping events, travel, and applying to college. Any of these wellness check-ups are perfect opportunities to ask about vaccines for your preteen or teen.


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