Pre-Teens Need Vaccines Too! Pre-Teens Need Vaccines Too!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Vaccines are not just for infants. As kids get older, protection provided by some childhood vaccines can begin to wear off. Kids can also develop risks for more diseases as they enter their pre-teen years. Help your child transition into adolescence in a healthy way by staying up-to-date on pre-teen vaccines.

Which Vaccines Do Pre-teens Need?

Doctors recommend that all 11 and 12 year olds get the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines; 11- and 12-year-old girls should also get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Tdap vaccine

This vaccine prevents pertussis, or “whooping cough,” which causes severe coughing fits. The coughing can cause pre-teens and teens to miss weeks of school, sports, and social activities. Parents may also have to miss work in order to take care of a sick child. Whooping cough is very contagious. It can be passed on to infants, who can die from it.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4)

This vaccine protects against meningitis and blood stream infections. The disease can become deadly in 48 hours or less. Even with treatment, people die in about 10% of cases. About 20% of survivors will have a long-term disability such as deafness, brain damage, or an amputated limb.

HPV vaccine (also known as the “cervical cancer vaccine”)

HPV is a virus. This vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer and genital warts. Doctors recommend this vaccine for 11 and 12 year old girls.

When Should Pre-teens Be Vaccinated?

Pre-teens can receive all of these vaccines during their 11- or 12-year-old check-up. If your child did not get vaccinated at age 11 or 12, ask your child’s doctor about getting the vaccines now.

Are These Vaccines Safe and Effective?

All of these vaccines have been widely studied and are safe and effective. Pre-teens may experience mild side effects, such as redness and soreness, where they get the injection (in the arm). These vaccines are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the CDC.

Can I Get Help Paying for Vaccines?

For families with health insurance, all or most of the cost of vaccines is usually covered. Children age 18 and younger may be eligible for free vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program if they are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, or American Indian or Alaska Native. Doctors can charge a fee to give each shot. However, VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family cannot afford the fee.