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Your Preteen or Teen Still Needs Vaccines

Planning playdates may not be on your parenting to-do list anymore. But with preteens and teens, there’s something you still need to do: Make sure they’re vaccinated.

All preteens and teens should get a seasonal flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For a shot against serious diseases, they also need these three vaccines.

1. Meningococcal

Protects against: Meningococcal disease, a serious illness that can lead to meningitis—an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord—and blood infections.  

Who needs it: All 11- to 12-year-olds should get a meningitis shot known as MenACWY. It protects preteens and teens against the four types of bacteria (A, C, W, and Y) that cause most meningococcal disease. If your teen is 13, 14, or 15 and hasn’t received the MenACWY vaccine, it’s not too late. At 16, all teens need a booster MenACWY, including those who got their first vaccine between ages 13 and 15.

2. HPV

Protects against: Human papillomavirus (HPV). Every year, 14 million people, including preteens and teens, are infected with HPV, which can lead to cancer. An HPV-related cancer strikes roughly 33,700 U.S. adults each year. According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine can prevent most of them.

Who needs it: All 11- to 12-year-olds need two HPV vaccine doses at least five months apart. Teens who don’t get their first shot until age 15 need three HPV doses.

3. Tdap

Protects against: Three serious diseases—tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis).

Who needs it: Between ages 11 and 12, preteens need a single Tdap dose. After that, they’ll need a tetanus and diphtheria booster shot every 10 years.

Online Medical Reviewer: Godsey, Cynthia, MSN, APRN, MSHE, FNP-BC
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2019
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