Why does my child need HPV vaccine?

This vaccine is for protection from most of the cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common virus that spreads between people when they have sexual contact with another person. About 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. HPV infection can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women and penile cancer  in men. HPV can also cause anal cancer, throat cancer, and genital warts in both men and women.

When should my child be vaccinated?

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. HPV vaccine also produces a higher immune response in preteens than in older adolescents. If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor about getting it for them as soon as possible.

HPV vaccination is a series of shots given over several months. The best way to remember to get your child all of the shots they need is to make an appointment for the remaining shots before you leave the doctor’s office or clinic.

Why does my child need Meningitis vaccine?

Meningococcal vaccines help protect against the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. These infections don’t happen very often, but can be very dangerous when they do. Meningococcal disease refers to any illness that is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by these bacteria include infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). Even if they get treatment, about 10 to 15 out of 100 people with meningococcal disease will die from it.

Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person. The bacteria that cause this infection can spread when people have close or lengthy contact with someone’s saliva, like through kissing or coughing, especially if they are living in the same place. Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease can become very serious, very quickly. The meningococcal vaccine is the best way to protect teens from getting meningococcal disease.

When should my child be vaccinated?

All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Older teens need a second shot when they are 16 years old so they stay protected when their risk is the highest.

Teens who got meningococcal vaccine for the first time when they were 13, 14, or 15 years old should still get the booster shot when they are 16 years old. If your older teen didn’t get the meningococcal shot at all, you should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible.

Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (2 or 3 doses depending on brand), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. Talk with your teen’s doctor or nurse about meningococcal vaccination to help protect your child’s health.

Why does my child need Tdap vaccine?

Babies and little kids get shots called DTaP to protect them from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). But as kids get older, the protection from the DTaP shots starts to wear off. This can put your preteen or teen at risk for serious illness. The tetanus-diphtheria-acelluar pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is a booster shot that helps protect your preteen or teen from the same diseases that DTaP shots protect little kids from.

  • Tetanus is caused by a toxin (poison) made by bacteria found in soil. The bacteria enter the body through cuts, scratches, or puncture wounds in the skin. Tetanus can cause spasms, which are painful muscle cramps in the jaw muscle (lockjaw) and throughout the body. The spasms can cause breathing problems and paralysis. A preteen or teen with tetanus could spend weeks in the hospital in intensive care. As many as 1 out of 5 people who get tetanus dies.
  • Diphtheria is not as common as tetanus but can be very dangerous. It spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing. It causes a thick coating on the back of the nose or throat that can make it hard to breathe or swallow. It can also cause paralysis and heart failure. About 1 out of 10 people who get diphtheria will die from it.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) spreads very easily through coughing and sneezing. It can cause a bad cough that makes someone gasp for air after coughing fits. This cough can last for many weeks, which can make preteens and teens miss school and other activities. Whooping cough can be deadly for babies who are too young to have protection from their own vaccines. Often babies get whooping cough from their older brothers or sisters, like preteens or teens, or other people in the family.

Where can I learn more?

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to learn more about Tdap and the other vaccines your child may need.

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