Recommended Vaccines for Teens and Preteens

There’s a vaccine that can prevent more than 29,000 cancers each year, yet four in 10 adolescents have not been vaccinated against the virus that causes them.

We’re talking about the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is recommended for girls and boys when they turn 11 or 12. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of preteens haven’t gotten it.

That’s just one of several vaccines recommended for adolescents that the County Health and Human Services Agency is raising awareness about as part of Preteen Vaccine Week from Feb. 11-17, 2018.

“Vaccines are the best protection we have against disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “If you’re a parent of an adolescent child, schedule a visit with your doctor now to get the recommended vaccines, and encourage other parents to do the same.”

There are about 300,000 preteens and adolescents in San Diego County and many of them have not had all the recommended vaccines. Making sure students have all the required vaccines is part of the countywide Live Well San Diego vision, an effort to improve the health and well-being of residents in the region.

The CDC recommends adolescent children get immunized against the following diseases:

  1. HPV (human papillomavirus)
    Boys and girls need all shots in the series for full protection. HPV vaccine for girls and young women prevents cervical cancer. The vaccine is also recommended for boys to prevent anal cancer and genital warts.
  1. Meningococcal disease
    Meningococcal bacteria are known to cause serious illnesses in children and adolescents. The bacteria can infect the blood and cause inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and the spinal cord. Ten percent of teens who become ill die, and another 15 percent suffer long-term disability such as loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems or brain damage.
  1. Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (grouped in one vaccine called Tdap)
    All students entering 7thgrade need proof of a Tdap booster in order to attend school.  Epidemics of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, occurred in California in 2010 and 2014, and cases have recently been increasing in San Diego County.
  1. Influenza
    The flu vaccine is recommended every year for everyone 6 months and older. Like most of the nation, San Diego County is currently going through a severe influenza season.
  1. Chickenpox
    Chickenpox, or varicella, is a viral infection that causes an itchy rash with small, fluid-filled blisters. While chickenpox is a mild disease for most people, it can be life-threatening for some. Two doses are recommended.

The above vaccines are available at physician offices, community clinics, and many retail pharmacies. People without medical insurance can get vaccinated at one of the seven County locations; call 2-1-1 for a location nearest you.

For more information on vaccines, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact