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Immunizations - Adolescent Immunizations

Recommended immunizations

Adolescents need certain immunizations and booster shots for ongoing protection (immunity) against diseases. Consult your doctor or public health department if your child missed an immunization or if you need to find out whether your child needs a certain one.

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a specific immunization schedule for children and adolescents each year.5 This schedule outlines the immunizations and booster shots needed during adolescence and also when catch-up immunizations should be given.

Immunizations recommended for adolescents (ages 11 to 21) include:

Flu (influenza)(What is a PDF document?)

This immunization helps protect against the flu. Flu viruses are always changing, so the flu vaccines are updated every year. Protection lasts up to a year for each flu vaccine type.

Who should get it?

  • All people ages 6 months and older need one dose each year.

Healthy people ages 2 years through 49 years can usually get the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist)(What is a PDF document?) instead of the flu shot. Pregnant women can get the flu shot but not FluMist. People ages 18 to 64 can get the intradermal flu shot instead of the regular flu shot. The intradermal vaccine gets injected into the skin instead of the muscle. And it uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot.

For the most current CDC guidelines about the flu, go to

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

The vaccines Cervarix(What is a PDF document?) and Gardasil(What is a PDF document?) protect against two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types of HPV that cause genital warts. And it protects against some uncommon cancers, such as vaginal cancer.

Who should get it?

  • All adolescents ages 11 or 12 need three doses of this shot, given over 6 months. (The series of shots can be started at age 9 or 10.)
    • Gardasil can be given to males.
    • Either Cervarix or Gardasil can be given to females.
  • Females 13 to 26 years old who did not get it when they were younger should get this series of shots. Males 13 to 21 years old who did not get it when they were younger should get this series of shots.

If your child already has HPV infection, talk with your doctor about whether to get your child immunized. The shot has not been shown to help existing HPV infection, but it may protect your child from other HPV infections.

HPV: Should My Child Get the Vaccine?

Meningococcal conjugate (Menactra or Menveo)(What is a PDF document?)

This shot protects against a bacteria that causes meningitis and blood infections (sepsis).


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 01, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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