Older children and teenagers immunisation

Older children and teenagers also need vaccinations.

Key points

  • As part of the New Zealand immunisation schedule:
    • 11-year-olds are given Tdap vaccine (also called Boostrix®), which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) and chicken pox vaccine if they have not already had the disease or the vaccine earlier.
    • 12-year-olds are given HPV vaccine, for protection against human papillomavirus.
  • Other recommended vaccines are measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, meningococcal vaccine and influenza vaccine. These are not funded and have to be paid for privately.

Free immunisations for 11 and 12-year-olds

In New Zealand, children are offered free immunisations at 11 and 12 years old. These immunisations may be offered through schools or by your doctor (general practice). A public health nurse visits some schools and gives children consent forms to bring home for their parents to sign for each vaccine. Parents need to fill out the forms and say whether or not they consent to the vaccine, sign the form and return it to the school.

Age 11 (Year 7)

Immunisation is offered against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). This is given as one injection called the Tdap vaccine (also called Boostrix). The vaccine boosts the protection that children receive as babies against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis).

  • After the full course of immunisations, protection is expected to last at least 20 years against tetanus.
  • Protection against whooping cough decreases after 2 to 5 years. 
  • From July 2017, children are also offered chicken pox vaccine if they have not already had the disease or the vaccine. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine.

Age 12 (Year 8)

At around the age of 12, immunisation is offered to girls and boys against human papillomavirus. This is given as the HPV vaccine (also called Gardasil 9). It protects against 9 strains of human papillomavirus that can lead to cervical and some other cancers and genital warts. Protection is long-lasting. 

  • For children under 14 years of age, the HPV vaccine is given as 2 doses, 6 months apart.
  • This age group develops a stronger immune response than those vaccinated when they are older.
  • Children aged 15 years and older will need 3 doses of the vaccine, spaced over 6 months.

Other recommended immunisations

There are other vaccines recommended for older children. These are available through your general practice and, in some cases, pharmacists.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine is recommended at 15 months and four years old. Two doses are needed for full protection. Children and young adults who have missed doses can catch up for free at their GP.

If you don’t know if your child has had both doses, check their Well Child Tamariki Ora health book, or call their doctor. Around 90% of young children in New Zealand have had both doses of MMR vaccine, but older children and young adults may have missed out. There were measles outbreaks in 2011–12 and 2014. Many people missed weeks of school or work, while they were sick, or while the disease was in their community and they were asked to stay at home. Read more about the MMR vaccine.

Meningococcal vaccine

Meningococcal disease is an infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the brain) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning). Vaccination against meningococcal C is available from GPs and many pharmacies and is recommended for young people starting boarding school or other hostel-type accommodation. You may have to pay for this vaccine.

Influenza vaccine

Influenza vaccine is available to purchase during the autumn and winter, usually between March and July, from general practices and many pharmacists. It is free for people who have:

  • severe asthma
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • kidney disease.

Read more at www.fightflu.co.nz

Learn more

Immunisation for older children Ministry of Health NZ

Credits: Editorial team. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 13 Dec 2017