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The vaccine guide for teens and college kids that parents can't ignore

Laura Owens is a freelance writer who specializes in natural health, mood balancing, psychology, social trends and motherhood. She lives in Orlando, Florida. You can reach her at or

Vaccines for teens can't be ignored in the back-to-school chaos

Catch-up vaccines

The CDC recommends older children receive the following vaccinations if they did not receive all recommended doses when they were younger:              

  • Hepatitis B vaccine series: Hepatitis B is a serious disease that affects the liver and is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine series: Check with your healthcare provider to make sure your child received two doses of MMR.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine series: If your child has not previously been vaccinated and has not had chickenpox, the CDC recommends he or she get vaccinated against this disease. The vaccine is given as a two-dose series. Any teenager who was vaccinated as a child with only one dose should get a second dose now.
  • Polio vaccine series: Polio is a disease caused by a virus that can enter a child (or adult's) body through the mouth. It does not usually cause serious illness, but it can cause paralysis in some cases.

More: Why I kiss my kids on the lips and I'm not planning to stop

Special circumstances

Students entering high school or college may need additional vaccines due to their own specific health conditions or because they were exposed to other people with age-related or health-related risks. The additional vaccines for which your child should be assessed include:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine series: Anyone can get infected with hepatitis A. Some teens, however, have a greater risk. These risk factors include traveling outside the United States, babysitting or having household contact with a child who was adopted from a foreign country within the last 60 days, being a male who has sex with other males, using illegal drugs, having a clotting factor disorder or chronic liver disease.
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharid (PPV) vaccine: Pneumococcal disease is caused by Streptococcuspneumoniae bacteria. It is a leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness and death in the United States. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but some people are at greater risk than others: People 65 years and older, the very young, people with certain health problems, people with a weakened immune system and smokers.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

Vaccines for teens can't be ignored in the back-to-school chaos
Image: SheKnows

Originally published July 2010. Updated July 2016.

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