As adolescents approach their teen years, they are at increased risk for certain diseases, such as meningococcal meningitis — an uncommon but potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.

Also, some vaccines your adolescent received as a child begin to wear off as he or she gets older, so additional doses (boosters) are needed to help provide longer-term protection.

Adolescents can sometimes have severe symptoms of pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Make sure your adolescent is vaccinated with a pertussis vaccine to help prevent the disease.


What diseases should I worry about?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other leading medical groups recommend that preteens receive at least 4 vaccines to help protect against several serious diseases.

  • Meningococcal meningitis (a form of bacterial meningitis)
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Influenza (“the flu”)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) disease



Routine checkups are the perfect time
to get vaccinated.



When should my adolescent get vaccinated?

Routine checkups for 11- to 12-year-olds and 16-year-olds are perfect opportunities for vaccination. Some adolescents need vaccination before middle school or college entry, or even for participation in sports. Check with your health care professional.


What if I’m not sure whether my adolescent received all the childhood vaccinations?

If you’ve moved or changed doctors, you may find that you’re just not sure if your adolescent is up-to-date on vaccinations. Check with the doctors your child has seen. Sometimes, immunization registries or schools hold vaccination records. If you cannot locate your adolescent’s personal records, your doctor will determine your child’s immunization needs.

Your adolescent should be vaccinated against the following diseases if he or she did not receive all recommended doses when younger.


Catch-up vaccines (if needed) to help protect against:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)


 CDC-Recommended US Adolescent Immunization Schedule

Flu=Influenza. Preteens and teens should get a flu vaccine every year.
Tdap=Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis. Preteens and teens should get 1 dose, preferably at age 11-12.
HPV=Human papillomavirus.

2 doses (minimum 5 months apart) are routinely given to 11- to 12-year-olds (can start at age 9 years).
3 doses needed to catch up persons 15 years of age and older and for those with weakened immune system (0, 1-2, and 6 months apart).
MenACWY=Meningococcal (MenACWY).
All 11- to 12-year-olds should get a single shot of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster shot is recommended at age 16.
MenB=Meningococcal B.
MenB recommendation begins at age 10. Teens 16 to 18 years of age may be vaccinated with a MenB vaccine.
Hep A=Hepatitis A
Hep B=Hepatitis B
IPV=Inactivated polio
MMR=Measles, mumps, rubella


For more information about adolescent immunizations, talk with your doctor.