Older children and teenagers immunisation

Older children and teenagers also need immunisation.

As part of the New Zealand immunisation schedule, 11-year-olds are given Tdap vaccine (also called Boostrix®), which offers protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) and 12-year-olds are given HPV vaccine, for protection against human papillomavirus.

Other recommended vaccines are chickenpox vaccine, 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 around 11 and 12 years old. These immunisations may be offered through schools or by your doctor (general practice). The public health nurse will visit participating schools and give 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).

  • Following the full course of immunisations, protection is expected to last at least 20 years against tetanus.
  • Protection against whooping cough decreases after five years. 

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 responsible for 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.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox (varicella) is a virus that is usually mild but can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and problems with your kidneys, heart, joints or nervous system.

  • Without vaccination, nearly all children will get chickenpox between the ages of two and 10 years old. Chickenpox is more likely to result in serious complications in those who catch it when they are older.
  • From 1 July 2017, Varicella vaccine will be free from your GP for those turning 11 years of age on or after 1 July 2017 who have not already had chickenpox or been immunised against it.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The vaccine is usually given at 15 months and four years old. Two doses are required for full protection. Children and young adults who have missed either or both of those doses can catch up free at their GP. If you are unsure whether your child has had both doses, check their Well Child Tamariki Ora health book, or call their general practice. Around 90

If you are unsure whether your child has had both doses, check their Well Child Tamariki Ora health book, or call their general practice. Around 90% of young children in New Zealand have had both doses of MMR vaccine, but older children and young adults are more likely to have missed out. This age group was heavily affected by measles outbreaks in 2011–12 and 2014. Many missed weeks of school or work, either while they were sick, or while the disease circulated in their community and they were quarantined at home.

Meningococcal vaccine

Meningitis (or meningococcal disease) is a bacterial infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the membranes that cover the brain) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning). Vaccination against meningococcal C is available to purchase from GPs and many pharmacists and is recommended for young people entering boarding school or other communal accommodation, such as hostels or military barracks.

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 with certain medical conditions, such as:

  • severe asthma
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • kidney disease.

Read more at www.fightflu.co.nz

Learn more

Immunisation for older children Ministry of Health NZ