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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: Meningitis, a potentially deadly infection of the meninges, the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord

Who needs it: All 11- to 12-year-olds should get a meningitis shot known as MenACWY. It protects preteens and teens against four types of meningitis bacteria (A, C, W, and Y). 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.

Between ages 16 and 18, teens heading to college may need another type of meningitis vaccine, MenB. It protects against serogroup B, another type of meningitis bacteria.

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. 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 six months apart. Preteens and 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.

Shot Strategies

If your teen doesn’t go to the pediatrician for a yearly physical, make an appointment for an immunization update. For a vaccine schedule you can print out, go to and search for “immunization schedules for preteens and teens.”

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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