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Vaccines for Preteens & Teens

As children age, certain vaccines they received as infants and toddlers begin to lose their effect. Preteens and teens should get revaccinated for certain viruses and are encouraged to consider getting vaccinated for a common sexually transmitted infection.

Recommended Vaccinations

Doctors recommend the following vaccinations for preteens and teens.


Because the childhood dose eventually wears off, the Tdap vaccine (which prevents against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) is recommended as a booster for children between the ages of 11 and 18, and preferably at age 11 or 12. Following this initial dose, a booster shot is recommended every 10 years, or after exposure to tetanus in some cases. For a while now, typical booster shots were one dose of Td (which only protects against tetanus and diphtheria. However, new evidence shows that pertussis is actually on the rise because of waning vaccine efficacy among adults. For this reason, some medical professionals are recommending a full Tdap booster every 10 years.

*What the letters mean:  DTaP, Tdap, and Td are all similar vaccinations given for the same diseases at various times in a person’s life. Depending on age, certain amounts of each of the vaccine’s components are administered. The lettering system and upper/lower cases denote the component of the vaccination and the amount that’s included within. As the CDC explains, "Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case "d" and "p" denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The "a" in DTaP and Tdap stands for "acellular," meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism."

Meningococcal (MCV4)

The MCV4 protects from meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection that leads to brain and spinal cord damage. Following the original dose at age 11 or 12, a booster shot is recommended at age 16.


The flu vaccine is recommended annually.    

Human Papillomaviruses (HPV)

HPV is spread through sexual intercourse and includes many types, some of which can cause cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. The vaccine is approved for boys and girls ages 9 to 26. Girls are recommended to get the vaccine at age 11 or 12, but both girls and boys are encouraged to get the HPV vaccine, because it protects against genital warts and anal cancer. The vaccine is given in three shots, ideally before individuals become sexually active. 

Content licensed from:

Written by: Amy Boulanger
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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