Vaccines For Teenagers

While the majority of vaccinations provided by the NHS are administered to children at a young age, there are a selection of vaccines on offer for teenagers. These are provided because teenagers can be at risk of particular infections which children might not be exposed or susceptible to, and in these cases an injection during their teens can be extremely effective.

What are the vaccinations available for teenagers?

Girls at around the age of 13 are offered the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination, which protects against viruses known to cause cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is now an important part of the overall vaccination programme, and is given to teenage girls as it the spread of HPV is linked to sexual activity (although it is not a sexually transmitted disease in the strict sense).

Students going to university can be susceptible to certain infections, and vaccinations prior to entering university life can prevent the spread of mumps and meningitis C. These vaccinations are usually administered to children, but are provided for teenagers who, for whatever reason, were not previously immunised against these conditions.

The teenage booster (Td/IPV) is an injection provided to teens between 13 and 18 years of age. It supplements previous injections offering protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and polio. While this injection is part of the routine childhood vaccination programme, there are regular cases where teenagers have missed out on an immunisation or would benefit from the booster.

Teenagers falling into one of any ‘at-risk’ categories are offered an annual flu vaccination. ‘At-risk’ conditions are those which affect an individual’s immunity in some way, making it a good idea to support the immune system more than usual. Examples of such conditions include diabetes, liver, heart, or kidney disease, and asthma that is treated with steroid inhalers.

The hepatitis B vaccine is another one offered to teenagers from different backgrounds. Students going into the study of medicine or nursing are required to receive the hep B injection because of the risk of infection in their future roles. Similarly teenagers who have used or are using injectable drugs like heroin, or other illegal substances like crack or cocaine who are at risk of using injected illegal drugs, are offered hepatitis B injections. Teenagers engaging in regular sexual intercourse with a number of different partners or traveling for prolonged periods of time to areas where hep B is prevalent are also given the vaccine.

These vaccinations are optional injections that are recommended by the NHS where relevant. Their use is an important step towards protecting teenagers and those around them from illnesses that are particularly prevalent in their age group and amongst those sharing their lifestyle and habits.

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