The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently posted the 2017 Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Aged 18 Years or Younger. This online publication of the new schedule was accompanied by an article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describing the changes implemented in the 2017 immunization schedule compared to the 2016 version.

The first change highlighted in the MMWR is the addition of a "16-year-old" age column to Figure 1. (Note: Figure 1 is the multicolored child/teen immunization schedule showing vaccine names along the left side and age columns listed across the top.) Previously, a single column designated the broader "16–18 years" age group. The new "16-year-old" column is further emphasized on the schedule with the addition of a gray background color in the column heading, identical to what exists for two other important vaccination age ranges, i.e., "4-6 years" and "11-12 years." So we now have three immunization platform visits indicated on the child/teen schedule: 4-6 years, 11-12 years, and 16 years.

Why the 16-year-old column is important

The new "16-year-old" column brings much needed attention to the fact that several CDC-recommended vaccinations due to be administered at 16 years of age are being overlooked by many providers.  These include:

  • MenACWY dose #2 — recommended at age 16
  • MenB dose #1 — recommended (category B) at age 16
  • HPV "catch-up" — needed for those who have not yet completed their series
  • Influenza vaccine — recommended seasonally
  • Other vaccines — the 16-year-old platform provides a "catch-up" opportunity for patients who have fallen behind on other recommended vaccines (e.g., HepA, HepB, varicella)

According to CDC's most recent National Immunization Survey-Teen, a paltry 33 percent of teens (through age 17 years) have completed MenACWY dose # 2, a vaccine recommended at age 16. We have unacceptably low coverage rates for many vaccines recommended for our nation's adolescents, including HPV vaccine series completion. The addition of a 16-year-old platform provides a distinctive visible reminder to healthcare professionals (and perhaps their patients/parents) that 16-year-olds are due for the important vaccinations shown above.

This new platform has created a perfect opportunity to consider establishing a 16-year-old vaccination visit in your medical practice. It will serve as an impetus to improve vaccination rates for 16-year-olds in your office, a reminder to 16-year-olds (and their parents) who look at the schedule to check their need for vaccinations, and the perfect opportunity to help bring teens in for a visit to receive other essential healthcare services they may be missing.

CDC resources

IAC materials for healthcare professionals

IAC websites for healthcare professionals

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.