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By the time your child is a teenager or a college student, she has received several vaccines, but it probably still doesn't feel entirely comfortable watching her get more. Most likely your teen has not had a negative consequence before, and that is likely to be the case again. If your teen has had a negative experience previously, be sure to discuss that event with her doctor before it is time for the next vaccine to be given.
Remember that your teen will take the lead from you. If you are feeling comfortable that this is an important and necessary thing to do, so will your teen.
Because some teens 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.
Hopefully teens are used to receiving vaccines and the visit does not cause angst. However, if your teen is afraid of needles, you can try some of the techniques for younger children such as blowing on a part of the hand or arm that has been rubbed with an alcohol swab or coaching them to relax their muscles. Your teen may also be more cooperative if you approve the vaccination and then leave the room while the vaccine is administered. Apprehensive teens can also be encouraged to listen to music, play an electronic game or engage in conversation in order to focus on something other than the impending vaccination.
When you get home, realize that your teen may be more tired than usual. He may be sore where the shot was given. Try to be patient and understanding and provide comfort to your teen. You can also give him a pain reliever as directed by the doctor. If the area where the shot was given is red, tender or swollen, your teen can use a cool wet cloth on the area. If your teen has a fever, have him take a cool shower or bath. Give your teen plenty of fluids and be aware that he 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 your child’s doctor who can tell you what to expect and what to do.
While most side effects are minor, if your teen has a severe reaction, you or the doctor can file a report to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System or VAERS.
While colleges will likely require certain vaccines, some that are not required may still be of benefit. Consider the following regardless of whether or not they are required:
Remember that a recommendation means that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians agree that a vaccine is needed for best health; however, individual states determine which vaccines are required and those decisions are often based on other factors.
Be sure to discuss general health issues with your child as well. Many college students become run down, don't eat well, and don't fit regular exercise into their routine leaving them more susceptible to illness.
In addition to making sure college students have the appropriate supplies and are prepared to be away from home, make sure they are prepared to take care of their health:
Whether in high school or college, many teens participate in programs that include international travel. If your teen is among this group, it is a good idea to get in touch with a travel clinic before it is time for the trip. Healthcare providers in travel clinics specialize in health concerns related to travel and provide vaccines that may be needed. Learn more about preparing for travel and finding a travel clinic near you.
Visit our Pinterest page related to adolescents, teens and college students for more resources.
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.
You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.