Doctors recommend that all pre-teens ages 11 and 12 get important shots (also called vaccines or immunizations) to protect against serious diseases.
What shots does my child need?
All pre-teens need to get the following shots.
- Tdap booster
This shot protects against tetanus ("TET-nes"), diphtheria ("dif-THEER-ee-ah"), and whooping cough (pertussis). It's a single shot that's given to pre-teens ages 11 or 12. Learn more about the Tdap shot.
This shot protects against types of meningococcal disease, including meningitis ("men-in-JY-tis"). Meningitis is a very serious infection of the tissue around the brain and spinal cord. Learn more about the MCV4 shot.
- HPV shots
These shots protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause several types of cancer. The HPV vaccine is given in 3 shots over 6 months, starting at age 11 or 12. Learn more about HPV shots.
- Yearly flu shot
Getting the flu vaccine every year is the best way to protect against the flu.
Why does my child need these shots?
Shots protect your child from serious, even deadly, diseases. For example:
- Meningitis can cause the loss of an arm or leg or even death.
- Meningitis and whooping cough can spread easily from person to person.
- HPV can cause some types of cancers later in life.
As kids grow older, some of the childhood vaccines begin to wear off. That’s why it’s important to get the Tdap “booster” shot. Also, pre-teens are at greater risk for some diseases as they get older, like meningitis.
It’s important for every child to get shots.
The bacteria and viruses (germs) that cause serious childhood diseases are still around. Each person who isn’t vaccinated can spread those germs to other people.
Are there any side effects from these shots?
Side effects from shots are usually mild and only last a short time. The most common side effect is pain or redness where the shot was given. Many children have no side effects at all.
Shots are very safe.
Vaccines are tested for years before doctors start giving them to people. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) checks vaccines every year to make sure they are safe. The risk of harm from shots is very small.