Disease Prevention for Teens

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What immunizations do teenagers need?

This is the immunization schedule as recommended by the federally convened Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Teens should receive a trivalent Tdap vaccine booster at the 11-12-year visit if not previously vaccinated within five years. With the exception of the Tdap booster at 11-12 years of age, routine boosters should be administered every 10 years.
  • Teenagers should receive a second dose of MMR at 11-12 years of age, unless there is documentation of two vaccinations earlier during childhood. The first vaccination is generally given at 1 year of age. MMR should not be administered to pregnant teens.
  • Teens, 11-12 years of age, who have not received their second Varivax vaccination as part of a routine childhood schedule and who do not have a reliable history of chickenpox should receive this booster vaccination. The first dose is generally given at 1 year of age.

Most infants complete their immunization series against hepatitis B by their first birthday. If not completed, this should be accomplished by teens 11-12 years of age. Hepatitis A should be given to teens who are traveling to or living in countries with high or intermediate hepatitis A virus (HAV), live in communities with high rates of HAV, have chronic liver disease, are injecting drug users, or are males who have sex with males. Complete immunization requires two vaccinations separated by a minimum of six months.

Meningococcal vaccine: All teens 11-12 years of age should receive a vaccination to prevent meningococcal diseases (meningitis, general body sepsis, etc). Two doses are recommended -- the first at 11-12 years of age and the second at approximately 15 years of age. Of note, this has become a mandatory vaccination for college.

Teens of both genders should be immunized against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the leading cause of cervical and penile cancer and genital warts. Three vaccinations over a six-month period are necessary for maximum protection.

Annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for all teens.

Recommendations of special vaccine needs for foreign travel can be found on the CDC web site.

Medically reviewed by Margaret Walsh, MD; American Board of Pediatrics


United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD & Teen Pregnancy Prevention." July 12, 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/sexualbehaviors/index.htm>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2016

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