THE VACCINE: HPV
When: Age 11 to 12
One in four people in the U.S. is infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and while HPV usually goes away on its own, persistent cases can lead to cancer, which is why the vaccine is so important. “You can do this now to prevent your child from getting cancer later,” says Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, M.D., an internist in Atlanta and a Woman’s Day advisory board member. Healthy boys and girls should get two shots of the HPV vaccine six to 12 months apart, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The earlier, the better, too, since you want them to get the vaccine before being exposed to the virus (which happens through sexual activity with someone who already has HPV).
THE VACCINE: Tdap
When: Age 11 to 12
One shot of Tdap at this age—or as soon as possible after that—renews protection against three bacterial infections: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. (Children get five doses of a variation of the vaccine called DTaP from infancy until age 6.) Your tween will need this booster because immune protection wanes over the years. Pertussis is especially worrisome right now—cases of the violent and rapid “whooping cough” are increasing in teens ages 13 to 15, according to the CDC. “Beyond infancy, it’s sometimes referred to as ‘the 100-day cough’ because it lingers for so long,” says pediatrician Linda Y. Fu, M.D., at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C.
THE VACCINE: MenACWY
When: Age 11 to 12, then again at age 16
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Your teen needs the meningococcal meningitis vaccine because though the disease is rare, results can be devastating. Dr. Fryhofer notes that about one in 10 victims dies and up to 20% of survivors suffer long-term disabilities. This vaccine protects against four common strains (A, C, W, Y). When it was first recommended in 2005, protection was thought to linger for a decade. “Now we know that’s not the case,” says Dr. Fryhofer. “Only half of teens are still protected five years after the first dose, which is why they should get one at 11 or 12 and again at 16.” Risk is highest at ages 16 to 21, because it spreads through close .
THE VACCINE: MenB
When? Age 16 to 23
This newer vaccine series, which a teen would get in addition to MenACWY, protects against a type of meningitis called serogroup B. From 2013 to 2016, there were serogroup B outbreaks at five college campuses across the country, some of which happened before the FDA approved the two brands of the vaccine in 2014 and 2015, says Daniel Salmon, Ph.D., M.P.H., deputy director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Meningococcal vaccines are effective, especially in outbreaks,” adds Salmon. This vaccine is particularly good to consider if your child goes to college and lives in tight quarters, like a dorm or a sorority or fraternity house.