Vaccines keep healthy teens healthy. Did you know that your kids need shots when they begin their teen years? Starting at around 11 or 12 years old, kids need three vaccines. And it’s not too late for your older teenagers who didn’t get these vaccines at 11 or 12 years old. They can get them at their next doctor/clinic visit.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Kids also get vaccinated against these same diseases when they are younger and they need the Tdap vaccine to boost their protection against these diseases. It’s important for teens (and adults too!) to be vaccinated against pertussis, not only to protect themselves, but to prevent spreading it to babies who are too young to be vaccinated.
The meningococcal vaccine protects against dangerous brain and blood infections. These illnesses are not very common, but they are very serious when they happen. People can lose their arms or legs, have brain damage, or die. One of the most likely times for people to get meningococcal infections is between the ages of 15 and 24. Teens need meningococcal vaccine at 11 or 12 years and a booster at 16 years.
The HPV vaccine protects against two types of human papillomavirus that cause most cervical cancer and other kinds of cancer. One of the HPV vaccines also protects against genital warts. Boys and girls need three doses of HPV vaccine when they are 11 to 12 years old.
How and Where
Your child can get these vaccines at the same time, and they can be given at any doctor visit. If your child’s school has a health clinic, vaccines may be available there too. Your local health department may also have these vaccines. Many people can get vaccines for free or for a low cost. Ask about this at the doctor’s office.
For more information about vaccines, ask your doctor or local health department. You can also get information about vaccines for adolescents on the Minnesota Department of Health website at http://www.health.state.mn.us/immunize.