MDH-Ad-Aug2014Did you know that younger teens need vaccines, too? As kids get older, the protection from their childhood vaccines begins to wear off. There are also new diseases that teens can come in contact with in this stage of their lives. Keep your teens healthy with the Tdap, meningococcal, HPV, and influenza vaccines.

 Vaccines for teens

Tdap Vaccine

This vaccine protects against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Your teen should receive the Tdap vaccine at 11 or 12 years old. Beginning September 1, this vaccine will be required for 7th-12th graders to attend school, unless they have a legal exemption.

Meningococcal Vaccine (MCV4)

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, also called the MCV4 vaccine, protects against some of the germs that can cause meningitis. Meningitis is a serious disease that can cause swelling around the lining of the brain and spinal cord. It can also cause a life threatening blood infection. Your teen needs this vaccine at 11 or 12 years old. They will need another meningococcal shot when they are 16 years old. Beginning September 1, this vaccine will also be required for 7th-12th graders to attend school, unless they have a legal exemption.

HPV Vaccine

This shot is cancer prevention! Almost all people will have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection at some time in their lives and some forms of HPV can cause cancer. HPV vaccines help protect against HPV infections and the cancers they cause. Both boys and girls should receive HPV vaccine. Teens need a series of three HPV shots starting at 11 or 12 years old.

Influenza Vaccine

This vaccine protects against influenza (flu) and should be given every fall.  The flu can cause health problems such as dehydration or lung infections.

Shots don’t have to be scary!

Help your teen be as calm and comfortable as possible when getting their vaccines. Have them bring along their favorite music and headphones; or have them close their eyes and imagine a favorite place or activity. Remind them that getting shots may sting a little, but it’s much better than getting sick!

When should my child be vaccinated?

A good time to get these vaccines is during a yearly checkup. Your teen can also get these vaccines at a physical exam required for sports, school, or camp. Even if your teen missed these vaccines at 11 or 12 years, they can still get them at an older age. It’s a good idea to ask the doctor or nurse at every visit if there are any vaccines your teen may need.

What else should I know about these vaccines?

These vaccines have all been studied very carefully and are safe and effective. They can cause mild side effects, like soreness or redness at the where the shot was given. Some teens may faint after getting shots, but sitting for 15 minutes afterwards can help prevent fainting. It is very important to tell your doctor or nurse if your teen has any serious allergies before they receive any shots.

How can I get help paying for these vaccines?

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides free or low cost vaccines for some children and teens.  Talk to your doctor or nurse for more information and to find out if you’re eligible.

Where can I learn more?

Visit for more information on keeping your teen healthy and happy.

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