Vaccines for teens
Tdap - Pertussis (whooping cough) booster -- Meningococcal vaccine (Menactra or Menveo) and HPV vaccine (Gardicil) are recommended at 11 years old.
Pertussis causes a really bad cough that lasts a long time, and is an illness which can be life-threatening to babies and a major nuisance to older kids and adults. because of the duration of the cough -- many weeks or months. Almost everybody who gets Pertussis thinks it would have been better to have had the shot, but there are exceptions.
Pertussis immunization is included in the DTP that is given to babies (it's the "P"). But in the case of this particular immunization, the protection diminishes and hence a booster is recommended. In recent years there's been quite a bit of pertussis in California, especially in teenagers and young adults, and there's been a special push to immunize older kids for that reason.
In the case of babies, for whom the disease is the most dangerous, preventing illness mainly depends on keeping them away from older people who have it -- e.g., older siblings, parents, grandparents and babysitters -- because the babies are not fully protected against the disease until they've hadthree doses, which doesn't happen until they are six or seven months old.
In other words, if your teenager gets the vaccine, he or she is much less likely to give pertussis to one of his friends, who might give it to his baby brother.
Meningococcal infection is very rare but very serious. This kind of infection can kill you start to finish between Friday and Monday. The shot is effective at preventing most but not all cases of this disease, but particularly the type that tend to strike teens and young adults -- sometimes in college dorms.
The HPV vaccine is designed to prevent four different types of human pappiloma virus infections. These infections are very common and usually do not cause cancer, but two of the four cause three-quarters of abnormal pap smears and 100 percent of cervical cancer. They're also recognized as a cause of head and neck cancer. Both boys and girls should receive this vaccine.