Vaccines protect your child from serious and deadly diseases. Protection from some vaccinations wears off over time so to be fully protected, your child will need a booster shot. Vaccinating your child before they are exposed to serious and life-threatening diseases is the best way to protect them.
Even during a pandemic, it is important to ensure that children are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Children who are not protected by vaccines may be more likely to get diseases like measles and whooping cough. If your child is due for a well-child visit, call the doctor’s office and ask about ways they safely offer well-child visits during this time. Many medical offices are taking extra steps to make sure that well visits can happen safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Talk to your healthcare provider to ensure you and your child are up-to-date on all their vaccinations. For more information, click here.
Parents, did you know that adults need vaccines too?
Click here for more information on adult vaccines.
Which Vaccines Do Adolescents Need?
When your child is:
The vaccines they need are*:
11-12 years old
Tdap, HPV, and Meningococcal ACWY
16 years old
Meningococcal ACWY (booster)
Flu (each year) and travel specific vaccines (as needed)
*Other vaccines may be needed if a child is catching-up on missed vaccines. For more information, click here.
|New Jersey School Immunization Requirements|
|In New Jersey, students who are at least 11 years of age at the sixth grade or higher level are required to receive one dose of Tdap and meningococcal vaccine for school attendance. For more information about NJ’s school immunization requirements, please click here.|
Help Protect Your Child and Your Family
- COVID-19 can make children and teens of any age very sick and can sometimes require treatment in a hospital. Some children and teens have even died from COVID-19.
- The benefit COVID-19 vaccines, like other vaccines, is that those vaccinated get protection without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
- Help protect children from severe disease, hospitalization, or death by getting them vaccinated against COVID-19.
Why is COVID-19 vaccine especially important for youth?
Getting children vaccinated can:
- Protect children from severe disease, hospitalization or death
- Prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who are unable to receive the vaccine
- Allow children to safely participate in sports, playdates, and other group activities
- Help prevent future health problems cause by COVID-19 infection
- Can provide added protection even if you already had COVID-19 disease
Where can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you: COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Finder
You may also reach the NJ COVID-19 Vaccination Call Center at 1-855-568-0545 for help
Help protect your whole family by getting yourself and your children vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Tdap vaccine protects you against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
- TETANUS (tet-a-nus), also known as lockjaw, is caused by bacteria that enters your body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. It is not spread person-to-person. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness; you might not be able to open your mouth, swallow, or even breathe. For more information, click here.
- DIPHTHERIA (dif-THEER-ee-a) is caused by bacteria and is spread person-to-person when an infected person coughs and sneezes. It causes a thick coating to form in the back of your throat and can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death. For more information, click here.
- PERTUSSIS (per-TUS-iss), also known as whooping cough, is caused by highly contagious bacteria that is easily spread from person-to-person when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It causes rapid, uncontrollable coughing fits that can cause you to vomit, break ribs or have difficulty breathing and sleeping. For more information, click here. Hear what a cough from someone with pertussis sounds like here.
My child received the pertussis vaccine when they were younger, so why is the Tdap vaccine needed now?
Your child probably received DTaP vaccine when they were younger, but the protection from that vaccination is wearing off. The Tdap vaccine is a booster shot that helps protect your preteen and teen from the same diseases that DTaP vaccine protects the little kids from when they were younger.
Why is the Tdap vaccine especially important for adolescents?
Whooping cough has been on the rise in preteens and teens. The best way to protect your child is to vaccinate them when they are 11 or 12 years old.
- In 2021, about 9 out of 10 New Jersey youths (ages 13-17 years old) surveyed received one Tdap vaccine.
- The goal is to have at least 8 out of 10 New Jersey youths vaccinated with Tdap vaccine annually.
Is the Tdap vaccine safe?
Tdap vaccine is very safe. Side effects may include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, fever, headache, nausea, and upset stomach. Serious side effects are rare.
The HPV vaccine protects your child from human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that commonly affects both boys and girls. Most of the time, the body can fight off HPV, but sometimes HPV causes serious infection. Certain types of HPV cause cancers, while other types cause genital warts.
Every year in the United States, HPV causes 34,800 cases of cancer in men and women. The virus is spread during any type of sexual contact. HPV can be spread even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. It’s possible to get more than one type of HPV. There is no test to find out a person’s “HPV status.” Also, there is no approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat. For more information, click here.
Why is the HPV vaccine especially important for adolescents?
Receiving the HPV vaccine by 11 or 12 years old provides optimal immune response to protect against HPV-related cancers. About 13 million people, most commonly among teens and people in their early 20s, become infected with HPV each year. The best way to protect your child is to vaccinate them when they are 11-12 years old. They will need two or three doses of the vaccine depending on their age and health conditions. Preteens who are 11 or 12 years old should get two shots of HPV vaccine. Adolescents who have certain health conditions or who start the vaccine series at 15 years of age or older will need three doses. Your child should be completely vaccinated before they are exposed to the virus. For more information, click here.
- Between 2012-2016, over 1,900 new cases of HPV-associated cancer occurred each year among New Jersey residents.
- The goal is to have at least 8 out of 10 New Jersey youths vaccinated with all recommended* doses of HPV vaccine annually.
New Jersey Girls
- In 2019, about 7 out of 10 New Jersey girls (ages 13-17 years) surveyed received 1 dose of HPV.
- In 2019, about 5 out of 10 New Jersey girls (ages 13-17 years) surveyed received all recommended* doses of HPV.
New Jersey Boys
- In 2019, about 6 out of 10 of New Jersey boys (ages 13-17 years) surveyed received 1 dose of HPV.
- In 2019, about 5 out of 10 of New Jersey boys (ages 13-17 years) surveyed received all recommended* doses of HPV.
*The CDC and ACIP recommendation regarding the recommended number of doses was updated on October 19, 2016. For more information, click here.
Is the HPV vaccine safe?
The HPV vaccine is very safe. Side effects may include pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, and headache. Severe side effects are rare.
Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine
Meningococcal vaccines protect your child from meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial infection that can become deadly in 48 hours or less. The disease may result in inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (Meningococcal meningitis) and/or a serious blood infection (Meningococcal septicemia). Even with treatment, 10-15% of people die. Others may have long-term complications such as brain damage, learning problems, skin scarring, hearing loss, and loss of arms and/or legs. For more information, click here.
The bacteria are spread from person-to-person through the exchange of saliva (spit), coughs, and sneezes. The bacteria are not as contagious as the common cold or flu and does not spread by casual contact or breathing the air where a person who is sick has been. Your child must be in direct (close) contact with an infected person’s saliva to be exposed.
Examples of close contact include:
- Sharing anything that comes into contact with the mouth (drinking glasses, smoking materials, eating utensils, cosmetics, or lip balm)
- Living in the same house
- Sleeping in the same residence (sleepovers)
About 1 out of 10 people carry meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat, but don’t get sick. These people are known as carriers. Although carriers do not have any signs or symptoms, they can still spread the bacteria and make others get sick. For more information, click here.
Why is the meningococcal ACWY vaccine especially important for adolescents?
Meningococcal disease can be devastating and can often unexpectedly strike otherwise healthy people. Teens are at higher risk of getting meningococcal disease. The best way to protect your child is to vaccinate them when they are 11-12 years old and get the booster dose when they are 16 years old.
Meningococcal ACWY vaccine protects against four of the five types of bacteria (A, C, W, Y) that cause almost all cases of meningococcal disease worldwide.
There is also a different vaccine to prevent against meningococcal type B disease. To learn more, click here.
- In 2021, about 9 out of 10 New Jersey youths (ages 13-17 years) surveyed have received the first dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
- In 2021, about 6 out of 10 17-year-olds (aged 13-17 years) surveyed in the US received the second dose (booster dose) of meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
- The goal is to have at least 8 out of 10 New Jersey youths vaccinated with at least one dose of the meningococcal ACWY vaccine annually.
Is the meningococcal ACWY vaccine safe?
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is very safe. Side effects may include redness and pain at the injection site. Severe side effects are rare.
(Courtesy of Voices of Meningitis)
What is influenza?
Influenza or “flu” is a highly contagious (easily spread) respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Your child can get the flu from an infected person when they cough, sneeze, talk, or by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. Infected people can spread the flu a day before they feel sick and for about a week after symptoms begin. As many as 41 million people get sick with the flu each year.
- body aches
- sore throat
Unlike many other viral respiratory infections, such as the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. Young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease), and people 65 and older are at increased risk. Each year, as many as 710,000 hospitalizations and up to 52,000 deaths occur in the U.S. from flu-related complications.
Why is the flu vaccine especially important for adolescents?
This year, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects your child from influenza viruses that will be most common during the flu season. The flu can be very serious, even for healthy youth, and especially for youth with certain health conditions like asthma or diabetes. By getting your child vaccinated, they can stop the spread of flu to others around them.
If your child gets the flu, they could miss one to two weeks of school and activities. Some children have painful complications like sinus infections, ear infections, or pneumonia. Protection from last year’s flu vaccine wears off and the flu vaccine changes each flu season so to be fully protected you need the latest version.
- During the 2018-2019 flu season, about 6 out of 10 New Jersey youths surveyed received the flu vaccine.
- The goal is to have at least 7 out of 10, New Jersey youths vaccinated with flu vaccine annually.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
The flu vaccine is very safe. The most common side effects are mild such as soreness or redness at the injection site, headaches, and muscle aches.
(Courtesy of Families Fighting Flu)
The Flu Vaccine Finder locates flu vaccine clinics near you. Simply enter your zip code or city and state to find mapped locations of flu vaccine clinics.
There are now vaccines to help prevent meningococcal disease caused by type B. MenB vaccine is recommended for people 10 and older who are at increased risk. It may be given to people 16 through 23 years old (preferably at 16 through 18 years old) in addition to the routinely administered meningococcal ACWY vaccine, to help provide broader protection. Ask your healthcare provider if your child should receive this vaccine.
If your child is traveling to another country for vacation, study abroad, or other reasons, check CDC Travelers’ Health to see if your child needs additional vaccines to keep them healthy before they leave. Talk to your healthcare provider to ensure your child is up-to-date.
Click here to see if your child has received all recommended vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider to ensure your child is up-to-date.
Want to learn more about the vaccines your child needs? Check out these trusted sites:
New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS)
NJIIS is a free, confidential, population-based online system that collects and consolidates vaccination data for New Jersey’s children and adults. The system maintains immunization data on New Jersey residents, and can help healthcare providers determine if a person has received all of the recommended vaccines. Ask your doctor about enrolling in NJIIS. Click here for more information.
Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program
Families who need help paying for vaccines should ask their healthcare provider about Vaccines for Children (VFC). The VFC program provides vaccines to uninsured and underinsured children younger than 19 years old. Parents may have to pay administration and office visit fees. Click here for more information.
- New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Vaccine Preventable Disease Program
- NJDOH School Immunization Requirements
- CDC Recommended Vaccines
- Immunization Action Coalition (IAC)*
- Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia (CHOP)*
- Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDs)*
- Voices for Vaccines*
- Vaccinate Your Family*
- NJDOH Meningococcal Disease Information
- CDC: Meningococcal
- IAC Meningococcal: Q&A*
- National Meningitis Association*
Mobile Apps & Podcasts
- Mobile App: Vaccines on the Go*
- Mobile app: THRIVE*
- Podcast: VaxTalk, by Voices for Vaccines
*The link to this website is intended to provide additional information pertaining to immunizations strictly for informational or educational purposes. The New Jersey Department of Health is not responsible for the content of this website and does not endorse private organizations.