Preteens & Teens

As your children become preteens, some vaccines they received as infants and young children begin to wear off and they need a “booster dose.”  Other vaccines are recommended for children starting at ages 11 or 12 to keep them healthy into adulthood. Preteens and teens are at increased risk of getting certain vaccine-preventable diseases as they engage in common activities such as sharing drinks and utensils, kissing, attending summer camps, and later, college.

Why Should I Vaccinate My Preteens and Teens?

Missed well-care visits can leave your children unprotected. Preteens and teens do not have as many regular visits with healthcare providers and may miss critical vaccines that can protect them.

Talk to your children’s healthcare provider regularly to make sure your they are up-to-date on all of their vaccines including flu, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough), meningitis (MenACWY and MenB) and HPV.


Why Follow the Recommended Vaccination Schedule?

The CDC develops the U.S. immunization schedules for children, teens and adults based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The CDC’s recommended immunization schedule is the ONLY vaccination schedule that is rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness. This schedule is also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The vaccines recommended in the schedule are carefully timed to provide protection to children and teens when they are most vulnerable to diseases, and when the vaccines will produce the strongest response from their immune systems .That’s why it is so important to follow the schedule as closely as possible.


Commonly Asked Questions About Vaccines for Preteens & Teens

All vaccines used in the United States are required to go through years of extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After vaccines are licensed, CDC and FDA continue to monitor each vaccine to make sure it is safe and effective.

This is only part of the process. Each vaccine continues to be monitored for any safety problems after it is licensed in the U.S. This monitoring is especially looking for any rare or new problems that may happen after vaccination. We have four different vaccine safety surveillance systems in place to watch vaccines after they are licensed for use – Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Project (CISA) and the Post-Licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring System (PRISM).  Any serious problems detected with these vaccines will be reported to health officials, healthcare providers, and the public.

VAERS allows anyone to report if they think they have had an adverse reaction to a vaccine, even if it is uncertain or unlikely that the vaccine caused it. Reporting to VAERS helps CDC and FDA better understand the safety of vaccines. However, while some reported adverse events may be caused by vaccination, others may be coincidental and not related to the vaccine. For example, if someone gets a vaccine then wrecks their car, there is nothing to stop them for reporting to VAERS – “That vaccine made me drive into a ditch!” You and I could then pull those records from VAERS, and go online to say “Aha! See, there are reports of this vaccine causing people to drive erratically and end up in ditches!”, even though no cause and effect has been demonstrated, and no other scientific evidence exists to suggest that vaccines and driving into ditches are connected.

Yes, the HPV vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing HPV. Before the three HPV vaccines were licensed for use in the U.S. by the FDA, each went through years of testing in thousands of people through clinical trials to make sure they were safe. After being licensed, the the CDC and FDA continued to monitor the safety of the HPV vaccines through the four post-licensure vaccine safety surveillance systems in the U.S. to look for rare or new problems that may happen after vaccination. Since HPV vaccine became available in 2006, there have been many large safety studies conducted in the U.S. and other countries, and over 100 million doses of HPV vaccines were distributed in the United States. HPV vaccines have continued to have good safety records, and careful safety monitoring has not shown any problems. No deaths have been shown to be caused by HPV vaccinations.

Of course, vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Many people who get the HPV vaccine have no side effects at all, while others report having very mild side effects, like a sore arm from the shot. The most common side effects of HPV vaccine include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Headache or feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Muscle or joint pain

There have been some reports of fainting after HPV vaccination, which is not usual. Sometimes people, especially teens, faint after they get shots. To make sure your child doesn’t get injured if they fall from fainting, your healthcare provider might ask your child to stay seated after getting the vaccine to help protect him/her.

No, there is no evidence that HPV vaccination causes fertility or reproductive problems. In fact, getting HPV vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer, can help ensure a woman’s ability to get pregnant and have healthy babies. For example, a woman who develops cervical cancer later in life due to HPV infection may require serious treatments that could leave her unable to have children. It’s also possible that treatment for cervical pre-cancer could put a woman at risk for problems with her cervix, which could cause preterm delivery or other problems. HPV vaccination can help prevent these complications.

There have actually been scientific studies that have looked at this issue, and they show that there is no correlation between receiving the HPV vaccine and increased rates of, or earlier engagement in, sexual activity.

Like all vaccines, we want to give HPV vaccine earlier rather than later – before your child is exposed to HPV. Preteens should receive all recommended doses of the HPV vaccine series long before they begin any type of sexual activity. Even if your child delays sexual activity until marriage, or only has one partner in the future, he or she could still be exposed to HPV if his/her partner has been exposed to HPV. Studies have shown that the HPV vaccine is most e­ffective in preventing the virus, and therefore HPV cancers, when given at age 11 or 12.

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States. Each type helps protect your child against different serogroups (strains) of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is routinely recommended for preteens and teens to protect against four serogroups (A, C, W, and Y).

Serogroup (B) meningococcal vaccine (MenB) protects against serogroup B and is available for adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old. There currently is not a meningococcal vaccine that offers protection against all common serogroups in one shot.

Ask your child’s doctor about BOTH meningococcal vaccinations (MenACWY and MenB).