Protect Preteens and Teens with Recommended Vaccines

Apr 16, 2024 | 2024, Health and Wellness

They’re sure not babies anymore, but preteens and teens still have a few remaining vaccines on the schedule. In addition to staying up to date on COVID-19 and annual flu vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends youth ages 11 to 17 get these three vaccines to protect against serious diseases.

Recommended Vaccine: HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that comes with serious risks for both males and females. Each year in the United States, about 37,000 new cases of cervical, genital, oral or throat cancers in men and women are caused by HPV.

“The HPV vaccine is the first vaccine successfully developed to prevent cancer,” said Sutter Health Plus Medical Director Robert Bixler, M.D. “It’s an exciting time when we can use a safe and effective vaccine to prevent a cancer long before it has ever formed.”

HPV is spread by intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV through sexual contact with someone who has the virus, even if they have no signs or symptoms. About 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV every year.

Vaccination for HPV works. HPV infections, genital warts and cervical precancers have dropped since the vaccine has been in use in the United States. Among teen girls, HPV infections have dropped 88%.

“The vaccine is most effective when it’s given well before exposure to the virus, hence the recommendation to start the vaccine in the preteen years,” said Dr. Bixler.

The CDC recommends two doses of HPV vaccine at age 11 to 12 years. If your teen isn’t vaccinated yet, it’s not too late. Talk to their doctor about doing so as soon as possible.

Recommended Vaccine: Meningococcal

Meningococcal bacteria can cause devastating, sometimes deadly infections like meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or blood infections. These diseases are not common but can affect otherwise healthy people. Adolescents and young adults ages 16 through 23 are at higher risk. About 1 in 5 people who survive a meningococcal infection will have permanent disabilities.

The CDC recommends that all youths get the vaccine beginning at ages 11 to 12, and a booster at age 16. For teens ages 13 to 15 who haven’t received the vaccine, it’s not too late to begin.

Recommended Vaccine: Tdap or Td

These vaccines protect against several serious diseases in one shot. Td protects against tetanus and diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) as well. Before the vaccine was introduced, whooping cough and diphtheria were major causes of illness and death in children.

The CDC recommends one shot of Tdap or Td at age 11 to 12, and a booster every 10 years thereafter. Teens who didn’t get Tdap/Td as a preteen can get one shot at their next PCP visit.

These vaccines and other immunizations are covered at no cost share for Sutter Health Plus members. Talk to your child’s doctor about scheduling the vaccines they need, to keep them healthy throughout their teen years and beyond.