Are your children 11-19 years old?

If so, they need to be vaccinated against serious diseases.

The disease protection that children receive from some vaccines early in life may begin to weaken when they are between 11 and 19. Because they're older, they're also at risk for other diseases. For these reasons, it is very important that your children receive their recommended vaccines.

A good time to get your children vaccinated is during their yearly health checkups or camp/sports physicals. Every year, ask their health care provider if there are any vaccines your children may need.

Vaccinate Your Children Against These Diseases

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

  • The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
  • It is spread by skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity.
  • About 20 million people in the U.S. are infected with HPV.
  • HPV is most common in the late teen years and early 20s.
  • Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.
  • Adolescents who get an HPV vaccine between ages 11 and 12 get the best protection against HPV.
  • Two HPV vaccines are available: Gardasil and Cervarix. Talk to your child's provider about which one is best. For details, see the second page of this publication.

Influenza (flu)

  • The flu is very contagious. It is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. It is caused by a virus.
  • The flu can cause mild to severe illness. In rare cases, it can even cause death.
  • Most people will recover from the flu in less than two weeks. Some will develop complications such as, pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections.
  • Flu vaccine is recommended each year for everyone 6 months and older. For details, see the second page of this publication.

Meningococcal Disease

  • Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria.
  • It is spread by respiratory droplets or direct contact with the saliva of an infected person.
  • The two most common forms of meningococcal disease are: meningitis – an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord; and septicemia – an infection in the blood.
  • Adolescents are at greater risk of getting meningococcal disease.
  • Every case of meningococcal disease can result in death or long-term disabilities (e.g., loss of limbs, deafness, blindness, etc.).
  • Two meningococcal vaccines are available: Menactra and Menveo. For further details, see the information under Vaccines.

Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough)

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough are all caused by bacteria.
  • The protection children receive early in life wanes during childhood so adolescents need a vaccine booster (Tdap).
  • Diphtheria is highly contagious. It is spread when people cough and/or sneeze.
  • Diphtheria can cause breathing difficulties, paralysis, heart failure and death.
  • Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria usually found in soil, dust and manure. These bacteria enter the body through an open wound – a cut, puncture, or sore.
  • Contracting tetanus is very serious. As many as 20 percent of unvaccinated people who get tetanus will die.
  • Tetanus is not contagious. You cannot get it from someone else.
  • Whooping cough is highly contagious. It is spread by coughing and/or sneezing.
  • Whooping cough causes severe coughing spells which can lead to rib fractures, pneumonia, seizures,and even death. Often, babies get whooping cough from their older siblings or other family members.
  • There are now two Tdap vaccines: Boostrix and Adacel. For further details, see the information under Vaccines.

Vaccines

Gardasil and Cervarix
  • Both vaccines protect against the types of HPV that cause most cases of cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts.
  • Gardasil is given in a 3-dose series starting at age 11 or 12. It can be given from ages 9 to 26. It is approved for both males and females.
  • Cervarix is given in a 3-dose series. It is approved only for females ages 10 to 25.
  • Both vaccines work best if they are given before an adolescent has been exposed to HPV. (That is, before his or her first sexual contact.)
Flu Vaccine
  • Flu vaccine prevents your children from spreading the flu to family members and others who may be at greater risk for developing serious complications. This includes people with asthma or diabetes and babies younger than 6 months.
  • Your children should get the flu vaccine each year as soon as it is available.
  • The flu vaccine is available each season in two forms – the flu shot and the nasal spray.
Menactra and Menveo
  • Both vaccines protect against the same four types of meningitis: A, C, Y and W-135.
  • It is recommended that all 11- to 12-year-olds receive meningitis vaccine, either Menactra or Menveo. A booster dose of either vaccine should be given at age 16.
  • Unvaccinated teens who are entering college should receive a meningitis vaccine before moving into their college dormitories. If a healthy person receives his or her first dose at age 16 or older, a booster dose is not required.
Boostrix and Adacel
  • It is recommended that all 11- to 18-year-olds receive a single booster dose of either Boostrix or Adacel vaccine.
  • This booster dose will help reduce pertussis among adolescents. It will also help them from spreading pertussis to other people. These people may be at higher risk of serious complications from pertussis and/or too young to be immunized (e.g. infants).
For more information about adolescent vaccinations, visit

Publication 2110
Ver 7/2013