A useful meningococcal disease discussion guide for your teen’s 16-year visit.

What should happen at my teen’s 16-year vaccine visit?

Get your teen the CDC-recommended second dose of the MenACWY vaccine. Vaccination is the best defense against meningococcal disease, yet half of teens have missed their second dose of the MenACWY vaccine at age 16.

The MenACWY vaccine helps to protect against four types of meningococcal bacteria, which cause meningococcal disease, often referred to as bacterial meningitis. This second dose helps provide essential protection for teens and young adults, during the ages in which they are at increased risk for contracting the disease.

Many parents are aware of the first dose of MenACWY at ages 11-12, but they don’t know the CDC recommends a second dose at age 16.

In addition to the CDC-recommended second dose of MenACWY, it’s a good idea to speak to your teen’s doctor about other important vaccinations at your teen’s 16-year visit.

This includes the MenB vaccine, which helps protect against a commonly reported cause of meningococcal meningitis on U.S. college campuses in recent years.

Other important routinely recommended CDC vaccines help protect against human papillomavirus (HPV vaccine), tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap vaccine), and influenza (flu vaccine).

Routine vaccinations for adolescents include:
  • HPV vaccine series, which is recommended at ages 11-12 and helps protect against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), including cervical cancer.
  • Tdap booster, which is recommended at ages 11-12 and helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
  • Flu vaccine, which is recommended every year.

Common FAQs

Are vaccines covered by insurance?
Yes. You shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for your 16-year CDC recommended vaccines.

What is meningococcal disease and why should I care?
Meningococcal disease, commonly referred to as bacterial meningitis, is caused by the bacterium, meningococcus. It includes an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, called meningitis. Meningococcal disease is relatively rare, but it can be deadly, killing 10-15 percent of those who get the infection. It strikes quickly, often within 24 hours. Adolescents and young adults are among the groups most vulnerable to the disease, especially those of college age and/or attending college. Meningococcal disease is spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions that can happen through kissing and sharing beverages. Of note, people living in close quarters (e.g., camp, dorms, military barracks) and socializing in crowded settings (e.g., nightclubs, bar) – may be at higher risk.

If my teens have already gotten several vaccines at ages 11-12, why do they need to go back?
Vaccines are critical to health at every age. Meningococcal meningitis vaccines are also recommended specifically at age 16, and it’s also important to check in during their teen years to make sure they’ve been fully vaccinated according to recommendations.

What in the world is an “adolescent immunization platform”?
The “adolescent immunization platform” refers to the vaccines (first-time and catch-up) recommended for adolescents, including at the 16-year old vaccine visit. The term “platform” refers to an acknowledgement that vaccines are important at every age, and at every juncture of your life. Your healthcare professionals should be checking in with you about your vaccine history (what you’ve received) and to see that you’re up to date on vaccines recommended by the CDC.

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