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August 2016: Adolescent Health Essential – Keeping Teens Healthy Through Vaccination

August, 2016

Most people know that vaccinations are critical for keeping babies and young children healthy during early childhood, but it is equally important to keep adolescents up to date on vaccines through the teen years.

As children grow, protection from some childhood vaccines begins to wear off. In addition, some vaccines work better when given during adolescence. And, some illnesses that can be prevented through vaccines become a bigger threat as children get older.

What Vaccines do Adolescents Need?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends four important vaccines that teens should receive starting at age 11 or 12, unless an allergy or other medical condition poses dangers. These recommended vaccines are:

  • Tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine (1 dose): protects against these three infectious diseases (pertussis is also called "whooping cough") and is also a booster to the DTaP vaccine.
  • Meningococcal conjucate (MCV4, or MenACWY) vaccine (2 doses): an immunization to protect against meningococcal disease (such as meningitis or sepsis, a blood infection).
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (3 doses) (Cervarix or Gardasil): an immunization to prevent many HPV-related cancers that occur later in life, recommended for both boys (Gardasil only) and girls (Cervarix or Gardasil).
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine (every year): a vaccine that is recommended yearly for everyone over six months old to protect against different strains of seasonal influenza.

What can Parents, Caregivers, and Youth-Serving Professionals Do?

Parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and others who are involved in promoting the health and development of teens can learn more about these vaccines and their recommended schedule on the OAH website. The information includes:

There are many opportunities for ensuring that teens get the vaccines they need. Take advantage of health check-ups, sports, or camp physicals to make sure teens receive the recommended vaccines.

Identifying opportunities to promote adolescent health and prevent disease is the cornerstone of Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG)—a call to action led by the HHS Office of Adolescent Health. Follow #TAG42Mil and learn how you can get involved in promoting adolescent health.

TAG Tweets of the Month (please tweet!)

#HPV is linked to several strains of cancer. The HPV vaccine can protect adolescents: http://bit.ly/2bh12SL #TAG42Mil

#Healthcare providers - @TeenHealthGov has tools to teach #parents abt #vaccines for adolescents #TAG42Mil: http://bit.ly/2bh12SL

You can protect your teen from #meningitis, #flu, & #HPV! Learn more abt life-saving vaccines: http://bit.ly/2bh12SL

Do you work w/ students? @TeenHealthGov has lots of info on key #vaccines for teens & pre-teens http://bit.ly/2bh12SL

Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on February 22, 2017