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Adolescent & Adult Immunizations

Some vaccinations require more than one dose to maintain immunity long-term. The flu vaccine, for example, is reformulated each year in an effort to protect people from the most common strains of the flu - a virus that is constantly changing. A tetanus shot offers protection for 10 years, which is why adolescents and adults must continue to receive booster shots throughout their lives.


Vaccinations and booster shots are recommended for pre-teens and adolescents. Teenagers are more vulnerable than smaller children to exposure to such diseases as HPV and meningitis. If a teen is behind on their immunizations there is a catch-up schedule that can be followed to protect him or her from the diseases that can still do harm.

  • Young adults planning to live in a dormitory situation should be vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
  • Tetanus andiphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) should be given to 11-12 year olds who have completed the childhood series; 13-18 year olds who missed the 11-12 year old Tdap dose or who received Td instead a dose of Tdap should be given the vaccine five years after the last Td or DTaP dose.
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) is important for females at ages 13-18 to reduce the risk of contracting HPV which can increase the risk of cervical cancer later in life.
  • Influenza vaccine should be attained yearly prior to flu season to protect against the anticipated flu viruses in circulation. It is impossible to get the flu from a flu shot. The flu shot takes approximately two weeks to be effective so it is important to get it as early as possible.
  • Hepatitis B is a disease that many adults don't know that they have contracted. While often thought of as a strictly sexually transmitted disease, it has been shown that this disease can be transmitted by the exchange of saliva as in situations where teenagers share food and drink or kissing. The vaccine is very effective at preventing this disease which can lead to liver cancer in later life.
  • Inactivated Polio is a vaccine that an adolescent should get if he or she failed to get this immunization as a child. Polio still exists in some parts of the world and this vaccine will protect the adolescent from it being brought back into the country by a traveler.
  • Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is very important if the adolescent has not previously had this vaccine. Mumps can sterilize an adolescent male. Measles hospitalizes one out of five people who contract the disease. Rubella can spread to a pregnant woman and cause fetal damage. This is a very important combination for an adolescent to receive if he or she did not get it as a child.

Special Circumstances

Additional vaccinations may be recommended to a person due to a particular circumstance, such as age or health.

  • Health care workers, people with health problems and the elderly are encouraged to get the flu vaccine each year.
  • International travelers should check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see if any vaccinations are recommended for their destination.

Learn More

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Medical Association
  • Autism Science Foundation
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Emory Vaccine Center
  • Every Child By Two
  • Families Fighting Flu
  • The History of Vaccines
  • Immunization Action Coalition
  • Johns Hopkins Institute of Vaccine Safety
  • Meningitis Angels
  • National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
  • National Meningitis Association
  • National Network for Immunization Information
  • Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases
  • Shot By Shot
  • The Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Voices for Vaccines
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