Children of all ages can catch contagious diseases. That’s why it is important for kids at any age to be up-to-date on vaccines.

Parents and teenagers should never think they’re “too old” for vaccines. Some vaccines work better when they’re given to children older than 11. Also, some childhood vaccines need a “booster” so kids stay protected against an illness.

“It’s important for preteens and teenagers to see the doctor at least once a year,” says Ericka Hayes, MD, a Washington University infectious diseases physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Yearly checkups are the best way to make sure kids are getting the vaccines they need.”

The Big Four
Here are the most important vaccines for older children and teenagers.

Vaccine When to Get It Why
Influenza In the fall before flu season starts Protects against the flu
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Start series at age 11 or 12 Protects against a common sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer, as well as other kinds of cancer
Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) Age 11 or 12 Serves as a booster for the DTaP vaccine kids receive as infants
Meningococcal First dose at age 11 or 12 and a booster at age 16 Protects against bacteria that can cause meningitis infections and infections in the bloodstream

Not sure what vaccines your child needs? Download our vaccine brochure.


Expert Advice