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Age Groups and Vaccines — Adolescents (11 to 12 Years)

Your adolescent may require more than just his sports physical when visiting the doctor. Check with your child’s physician to see if he or she is up-to-date on all vaccines. The vaccines that are recommended include:

In addition to the resources listed above, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information about vaccines for adolescents. Learn more»

Preparing for vaccines

By this age, your adolescent has received several vaccines, but it probably still doesn’t feel entirely comfortable watching him or her get more. Most likely your adolescent has not had negative consequences before and that is likely to be the case again. If your adolescent has had a negative experience previously, be sure to discuss that event with your adolescent’s doctor before it is time for the next vaccine to be given. Because some adolescents have a tendency to faint, it is recommended that they are seated or lying down during vaccine administration and remain at the office for about 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.

Remember that your adolescent will take the lead from you. If you are feeling comfortable that this is an important and necessary thing to do, your adolescent will also be more comfortable.

To prepare yourself

To prepare your adolescent

Remember, taking your children to get vaccines is an act of love. You are protecting them from something much worse than the pain of the vaccine.

After the vaccines

When you get home, realize that your adolescent may be more tired than usual. He or she may be sore where the shot was given. Try to be patient and understanding and provide comfort to your adolescent. You can also administer a pain reliever as directed by the doctor. If the area where the shot was given is red, tender or swollen, you can use a cool wet cloth on the area. If your adolescent has a fever, have him or her take a cool shower or bath. Give your adolescent plenty of fluids and be aware that he or she may be less interested in food over the next 24 hours.

Watch for signs of a reaction from the vaccine including a rash, prolonged fever, or unusual behaviors. If you have any reason for concern, call the doctor. He or she can tell you what to expect and what to do.

While most side effects are minor, if your child has a severe reaction, you or the doctor can file a report to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System or VAERS.

A vaccine issue for this age group — Parents are not always informed about recommended vaccines

In 2005, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that adolescents receive a meningococcal vaccine. Likewise, in 2007 a vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) was recommended for girls. In 2010, a recommendation for the HPV vaccine was added for boys. However, because these vaccines may not be required in your state, your physician may not recommend that your adolescent receive them. But you should still consider having your adolescent get them.

What is the difference between a recommendation and a requirement?

When the CDC and its experts decide that a vaccine is safe and useful, they recommend it for use. A requirement is usually enforced by school entry laws, unless a parent claims an exemption.

What does the difference between recommended and required mean to me and my child?

If a vaccine has been recommended for use, but is not required by your state, your child may not be offered the vaccine. However, your child would still benefit from receiving the vaccine. When the CDC and the state public health departments make their recommendations and requirements, they need to consider the risk of the disease versus the benefits of the vaccine for the entire population. These considerations also include cost; what may not be a cost-effective prevention for society may be worthwhile for you as an individual parent.

For example, a 12-year-old girl from suburban Philadelphia died on December 11, 2002 from meningococcal infection. There was a vaccine available to prevent this infection; however, her parents were not aware of its availability because it was not recommended for her age group or required by her state. Reasonably, her parents wondered why they did not know about this vaccine. From their perspective, the $80 for the vaccine to save her life would, of course, have been worth it. That vaccine was not recommended for her age group for several reasons, one of which was cost. It would cost society approximately $4 million to prevent one case of meningococcal disease and $48 million to prevent one death if all adolescents were recommended to receive that vaccine. Because of the efforts of parents around the country who have lost their children to this disease, all adolescents are now recommended to receive this vaccine.

Learn more about individual choice vs. establishing recommendations considerations»

Updated: January 2013

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Keep your adolescent protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. Check out AdolescentVaccination.org»