What Vaccines Should Teens and Preteens Receive?

By this age, your child has probably received several vaccines. Routine vaccines are just that; routine. There are vaccines recommended for all U.S. residents depending on age and vaccine history. Most people believe routine vaccines are shots you get as a child before starting school. There are some important vaccines that teens and preteens should receive.The following vaccines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, and CDC:

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) protects against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease, such as meningitis or sepsis (bloodstream infection). MCV4 is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12. A booster shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue providing protection when their risk for meningococcal disease is highest. Teens who received MCV4 for the first time at age 13 through 15 years will need a one-time booster dose at 16 through18 years of age. If a teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, they should ask the doctor about getting it now, especially if they are about to move into a college dorm or military barracks.

HPV vaccine

The Human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccines help protect both girls and boys from HPV infection and cancer caused by HPV. Two brands of HPV vaccine (Cervarix and Gardasil) protect girls from the types of HPV that cause most cervical cancer. Gardasil helps protect both boys and girls from anal cancer and genital warts. Girls are able to receive either brand. Gardasil is the only brand available for boys. Preteens 11 or 12 years old should receive three doses of the vaccine over six months.

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.

The vaccines for preteens and teens 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.