Experts from Nationwide Children's Hospital answer common questions about health and safety

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Dennis Cunningham

Q. I know vaccines are really important for younger kids, but what about my teenager?

A: Most parents are pretty vigilant when it comes to their younger children staying up-to-date on necessary vaccinations. Vaccines are very important, and while children receive the highest number of vaccines early in life, adolescents and young adults are not exempt from the importance of vaccines.

Children who are 11 or 12 years old are at the appropriate age to receive a number of important vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these children should receive a Tdap vaccine, which helps prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), as well as a meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), which helps prevent bacterial meningitis.Preteens also should receive a three-dose round of the HPV vaccine, as well as their yearly flu vaccine.

For teens 13-18, the vaccinations received typically are meant for catching up on immunizations, especially right before leaving for college. Common catchup vaccines include Tdap, HPV and MCV4. Influenza booster shots should be received by 16-year-olds, and the annual flu vaccine is recommended for all ages.

- Dennis Cunningham, MD, is medical director of the Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control at Nationwide Children's Hospital.