Vaccines for Preteens and Teens

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 14, 2023
3 min read

When your child hits the preteen and teen years, it's time to find out which vaccines they need to get. Check with your pediatrician about the latest recommendations. If your child gets their shots on time, they'll stay safe from some preventable serious diseases.

Tdap protects children from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Doctors usually give kids this vaccine when they're age 11-12 if they've already had the DTP/DTaP vaccination series, and never got a Td booster.

Teens ages 13 to 18 who may have missed the 11-12 year Td/Tdap booster should also get a single dose of Tdap if they had the DTP/DTaP vaccination series when they were younger.

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. Certain types of HPV are linked to cervical cancer.

The CDC suggests boys and girls get their first dose of the HPV vaccine between ages 11 and 12. Kids should get their second dose at least 6 months after the first. Three shots are recommended for those 15 and older or those with a weakened immune system.

The HPV vaccine series should be given to any teen 13 to 18 years old who didn't get vaccinated at an earlier age. Young adults 18-26 years old should also consider getting vaccinated.

The vaccination prevents the development of at least 75% of cervical cancers in women, and maybe even more. Besides the connection to cervical cancer, HPV infections can cause head and neck cancers, including throat cancer, which the vaccine can help prevent.

This vaccine protects against certain types of meningitis. Your child should get their first shot at age 11 to 12. They'll need a booster at age 16.

Your teen should also get the vaccine if they're a first-year college student who lives in a dorm and never got the shot before.

The vaccine is recommended for kids who are younger than 11 if they have special risks for meningitis.

The vaccination covers the most frequent types of the meningitis bacteria, except for serotype B. Recently, another meningitis vaccine was approved that covers serotype B. The CDC recommends this for high-risk people over age 10.

Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine every year.

The flu virus changes every year, and vaccine makers adjust the vaccination to protect against the latest version of the virus.

Doctors give the hepatitis A vaccine in two doses at least 6 months apart.

The CDC recommends the vaccine for kids between 12 and 23 months old and certain groups of older children who were never vaccinated

Hepatitis A is rarely life-threatening in children, but kids can spread hepatitis A to elderly or ill relatives in whom the disease is much more serious.

Hepatitis B can spread among teens through drug abuse and sexual activity. A two-dose and three-dose version of the vaccine is available for kids ages 11 to 15.

Why does your child need this vaccination? This virus can be life-threatening or lead to long-term liver disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get four doses of the polio vaccine: the first at 2 months, the second at 4 months, the third from 6 to 18 months old, and the fourth between ages 4 and 6. 

Polio was thought to be eradicated in the West, but a man was diagnosed with paralytic polio in New York State in 2022 (he was reportedly not vaccinated). The virus has been detected in wastewater, as well. International travel to certain parts of the world raises the chance of catching the disease.


If your child wasn't vaccinated earlier, they should get this vaccine. Two doses of MMR can be given at any age, with at least 4 weeks between the doses.

Any child under 13 who did not get the vaccine earlier, or who never had chickenpox, should get two doses of varicella vaccine at least 3 months apart. If your child is over 13, the two doses should be at least 4 weeks apart.