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For Preteens and Teens

Your social life is probably important to you. The last thing you want is for something to get in the way of hanging out with your friends, especially if it is a serious illness. Diseases like meningitis and whooping cough can not only threaten your social life, but more importantly, your health. The good news though is that there are vaccines to protect you from these diseases.

Did You Say SHOTS?

There are several reasons you need vaccines as you mature:

  1. Some of the vaccines you got as a child wear off over time, so you need shots to keep you protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
  2. As you get older, your risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia, and HPV-related cancers increases. Specific vaccines, like HPV, should be given during your preteen (11-12) years because they work better at that age.
  3. Vaccines not only protect you from serious diseases, but also your siblings, your friends, and the people that care for you like your parents or grandparents.

You probably see a doctor or other health care professional for physicals before participating in sports, camping events, travelling, applying to college, and so on. All of these check-ups are a perfect time to ask about vaccines.

What Vaccines Do I Need?

  • One shot of Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Two shots of meningococcal vaccine to protect against meningococcal disease. The two most severe and common forms of meningococcal disease are meningitis, an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord, and septicemia, a bloodstream infection.
  • Three shots of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect against HPV infection and cancers caused by HPV. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancer in girls and penile cancer in boys. HPV can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer and genital warts in both boys and girls.

Plus, everyone should get a flu vaccine every year to protect against seasonal influenza.

You also need catch-up vaccines if you weren’t fully vaccinated as a child. Catch-up vaccines you might need include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), hep B, polio, and varicella (chickenpox). If you are travelling or have a chronic health condition like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma, you may need other vaccines as well. Ask your healthcare professional during your next visit if you need additional vaccines.

After You Get the Shots

  1. Stay seated for 15 minutes after the shot to prevent fainting.
  2. Your arm will probably be a little sore/tender, red, or swollen where the shot was given—which is a common reaction. A cool wet cloth on the spot might help.
  3. Take a non-aspirin pain reliever if the pain in your arm persists.

If you have any questions about vaccines, ask your doctor or nurse, and talk to your parents.

More About Vaccines & Diseases They Prevent


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