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Preteen and Teen Vaccines: Info for Parents of Children 11-18 Years Old

Vaccines aren't just for babies. Some of the vaccines your child received as a baby are wearing off by the time they reach middle school. And as a preteen or teen, your child may come into contact with a variety of diseases, different from the ones they were exposed to as babies. Vaccines can help protect your preteen or teen from these illnesses.

Your Preteen/Teen Needs 4 Vaccines

  • Tdap Vaccine

    Starting with the 2013-14 school year, this vaccine will be required for all seventh graders in South Carolina. The Tdap vaccine protects against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Preteens should get Tdap at age 11 or 12. If your teen did not get a Tdap shot as a preteen, ask their doctor or nurse about getting the shot now. As a parent, you also need a Tdap booster to protect yourself and your family. Talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine.

  • Meningitis (MCV4) Vaccine

    Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) protects against some of the bacteria that can cause meningitis — which is swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord — and sepsis, an infection in the blood. Preteens need the MCV4 shot when they are 11 or 12 years old, and they need a booster shot at age 16. Even if your teen got the MCV4 shot when they were 13, 14 or 15 years old, they will still need a booster at 16 years. Older teens who have never gotten any MCV4 shots should get it as soon as possible.

  • Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV)

    The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is an anti-cancer vaccine. It helps protect girls and boys from certain types of cancer caused by HPV infection, including cervical, anal and penile cancers. The series of 3 shots are given over a 6-month period. Ideally, HPV vaccines are given to children when they are 11 or 12 years old. But if your child is older than 11 or 12 and has not yet received the HPV vaccine, talk to their doctor about getting the series of shots now. Preteens and teens need to get all 3 shots for full protection.

  • Flu Vaccine

    This vaccine protects against influenza (flu) and the other health problems flu can cause, like dehydration (loss of body fluids), worsening of conditions like asthma or diabetes, and pneumonia. Preteens and teens should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it's available, usually in the fall. It is very important for preteens and teens who have chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible every year. (Learn more about flu vaccine safety.)

Get Vaccines at Yearly Checkup

A good time to get these vaccines is during your child's yearly health checkup. Make yearly checkups a part of your child's back to school routine each year. During those visits, make sure to ask your child's health care provider if any vaccines or boosters are needed that year.

Your preteen or teen may also be able to get these vaccines at a physical exam required for sports, school, or camp.

Safety of Vaccines, Side Effects

These four vaccines have all been studied very carefully and all are safe and effective.

Serious side effects are rare. Vaccines can cause mild side effects, like soreness or redness where the shot was given. And some preteens and teens might faint after getting a shot. Sitting or lying down when getting a shot and for about 15 minutes after the shot, can help prevent fainting.

It is very important that before your child receives any vaccines to tell the doctor or nurse if your child has any serious allergies that cause hives or anaphylactic shock. These include severe allergies to yeast, latex or chicken eggs.

Paying for Vaccines

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides vaccines for children ages 18 years and younger who are:

  • Not insured
  • Under-insured
  • Medicaid-eligible
  • American Indian or Alaska Native.

Learn more about the VFC program by visiting the CDC website and typing VFC in the search box or by calling DHEC's Immunization staff toll-free at (800) 277-4687.

Recommended Vaccine Schedule for Kids 7-18 Years Old

See the list of recommended immunizations for children 7-18 years old (pdf)

Educational Materials for Parents/Students

You can download and print these items from the links below. Or you can request up to 25 printed copies, by completing an order form (pdf).

Submit the completed form:

Learn More about Preteen/Teen Vaccines

Talk to your child's doctor or nurse about what vaccines your child may need.

You can also find more information at the CDC's Vaccines for Preteens and Teens website.

To learn more about why you should make sure your preteen/teen gets a flu shot each year, visit DHEC's "Flu in South Carolina" website.

For more information, contact us at (803) 898-0460, toll-free at (800) 277-4687, or at immunize@dhec.sc.gov.