Vaccinations for older children and teenagers include booster doses of vaccines given when they were younger (such as Boostrix), catch up doses of any childhood immunisations they might have missed (such as chickenpox or MMR) and vaccines for certain diseases that are more common in teenagers (such as human papillomavirus or HPV).
Children and teenagers with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of certain diseases and health complications. They may need additional vaccines to those mentioned below. If you are unsure, ask your doctor.
At around the age of 11 years, children are given the Boostrix vaccine as part of the National Immunisation Schedule. Boostrix vaccine is a single injection that offers protection against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). Boostrix vaccine 'boosts' the protection that babies and children received against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). Read more about tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
Boostrix may be offered by your GP or through schools. 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.
Chickenpox vaccine is recommended and funded for children at 15 months of age. For children who have not had chickenpox, it is more likely to result in serious complications if they catch it when they are older. The chickenpox vaccine (also called varicella vaccine) is also free from your GP for children turning 11 years of age who have not already had chickenpox or been immunised against it. Read more about chickenpox vaccine.
At around the age of 12, immunisation is offered to girls and boys against human papillomavirus (HPV). This is given as the HPV vaccine (also called Gardasil 9). It protects against 9 strains of HPV that can lead to cervical and some other cancers and genital warts. Protection is long-lasting.
- For children aged 9 to 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.
HPV vaccine may be offered through schools or by your doctor (GP). 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.
Read more about HPV vaccine.
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. Read more about MMR vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is an infection that causes two very serious illnesses: meningitis (an infection of the brain) and/or septicaemia (blood poisoning). During an outbreak of meningococcal disease, a meningococcal immunisation programme may be started to protect people at highest risk of getting, or being affected by the infection. Read more about meningococcal vaccine.
Influenza vaccine offers protection against catching the flu and reduces the serious of illness if you become infected. It is especially important for children with certain long-term (chronic) health conditions, who are most likely to develop complications from the flu, such as chest infections. It can be given to other generally healthy children but it is not funded. If your child does have a long-term condition, make sure they have their flu immunisation every year before the winter starts. Read more about influenza vaccine.
Immunisation for older children Ministry of Health NZ
Angela is a pharmacist in the Quality Use of Medicines Team at Waitematā District Health Board. She has experience in hospital pharmacy in New Zealand and in the UK, and was previously a medical writer for Elsevier in The Netherlands. Angela is interested in promoting the safe use of medicines, particularly high-risk medicines.