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Preteen and Teen Immunizations

With all the issues that come with raising an adolescent, it can be easy for parents to lose track of recommended preteen and teen immunization boosters.

Fortunately, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AICP) has recently updated its recommendations and immunization schedule for children 0-18 years old. The most current recommendations for preteen and teen immunizations include:

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, to children and teens. Learn more.

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Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Tdap vaccine is usually administered at age 11–12 years for those who have completed the recommended childhood DTP/DTaP vaccination series, and who have not received a tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine (Td) booster. Kids aged 13–18 years who may have missed the 11–12 year Td/Tdap booster should also receive a single dose of Tdap if they have completed the recommended childhood DTP/DTaP vaccination series.

Why do teens need this vaccination? This is a new vaccine with fewer side effects. The side effects of earlier vaccines, particularly to the pertussis (whooping cough) component, were much worse in teens and made further immunization impractical. Unfortunately, the protection against whooping cough only lasted about 10 years. Thus, teens and young adults became the most common victims of "adult pertussis syndrome." Getting whooping cough after the old vaccine loses effectiveness can cause a severe and sometimes debilitating cough for three weeks. Now, young people can be immunized against this reinfection as they become adults. Also, immunizing teens helps prevent the spread of pertussis in the community.

Human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV)

Based on the clinically proven link between certain types of HPV and cervical cancer, one of AICP's most significant changes is its recommendation that adolescent girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV.

It recommends that the first dose of the HPV vaccine series be administered to girls and boys between 11 and 12 years of age (and not given to girls younger than nine). The vaccine works best at younger ages.The second dose should be administered two months after the first, and the third dose six months after the first. The HPV vaccine series should be given to any teen age 13–18 years who has not previously been vaccinated. Young adults 18-26 years of age should also consider getting vaccinated.

The vaccination will prevent the development of at least 75% of cervical cancers in women, and maybe even more. Over time, we hope the number of Pap smear screens needed will also decrease. This is also the first vaccine that can prevent cancer.

Meningococcal vaccine

It's recommended that the first meningococcal vaccine be given to children at age 11–12 years or to any previously unvaccinated adolescents at the time they have entered high school -- approximately the age of 15. A booster is recommended at age 16. It's also recommended that college freshmen living in dorms who were not previously vaccinated receive the vaccine. The immunization is recommended in children younger than 11 with special risks.

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