When you think of vaccines, do you think of the shots that your little one got starting in infancy? It seems like every checkup comes with shots for a while. For most parents, getting that final set of shots at 4 or 5 years old before kindergarten starts seems to be a milestone. It sometimes comes as a big surprise that there are several vaccines that are specifically recommended for your pre-teen or teenager.
TDaP, also known as Boostrix and Adacel, contains Tetanus and Diptheria Toxoids, as well as the Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine. This vaccine is due for everone 11 years and older. This vaccine is also given to pregnant women during each pregnancy in the third trimester and other family members who will be around a young infant. Adults need a tetanus booster every 10 years.
Your teen should also be vaccinated against meningococcal disease, which is meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (Menactra® and Menveo®)
- Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero® and Trumenba®)
All 11- to 12-year-olds should be vaccinated with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose is due at age 16. Teens and young adults (16- through 23-year-olds) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, especially before college starts. In certain situations, other children and adults might be encouraged to get these vaccines.
HPV, the vaccine for Human Papillomavirus, goes by the trade name Gardasil. This vaccine protects against the virus that causes cervical, rectal and throat cancers as well as genital warts. HPV vaccination is recommended for all girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. If a teenager or young adult (age 13 through 27) has not gotten any or all of the HPV shots when they were younger, they can go ahead and start the series or complete it. There are two different dosing schedules depending on the age of the first vaccine dose. If the first dose of vaccine is given before age 15, your child only needs two shots, six months apart. If the series is started after age 15, two more shots are given, one at two months after the first shot and the second at eight months after.
There are several other vaccine boosters or updates that your child may be offered. If your child has not yet had a second varicella vaccine, they will need to get this at their next well check. Ask your child’s doctor if they recommend any other specific shots, including the Hepatitis A series. If it is between September and March, be sure to get an influenza vaccine as well. For more information on teen immunization, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Vaccines are one of the best ways you can keep your child healthy!
Dr. Mary T. Martin is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates–Easley.