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Vaccines

Vaccines

Vaccines

Vaccines help protect you from contagious and dangerous diseases. It's important that you stay up to date on your vaccinations to protect yourself and those around you. On this page, you can learn about vaccines specifically for teens, and how to access the other vaccines you need.

Vaccinations for HPV

Did you know that there is a vaccine that can prevent some types of cancer? Getting vaccinated now against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can protect you from cancer later in life. 

HPV is very common, and most people who aren't vaccinated get HPV at some point in their life. It spreads easily through intimate contact (not just sexual intercourse). Most of the time, the body is able to clear the infection on its own. But sometimes, HPV causes genital warts and cancer in both men and women--including cancers of the genitals, anus, mouth, and throat. 

Fortunately, this can be prevented by getting three doses of the HPV vaccine.

Both men and women can get HPV, and both men and women can be vaccinated. Talk to your health care provider about the HPV vaccine, and tell your friends. It’s best to get the HPV vaccine before you start having sex, or as soon as possible. You can get vaccinated up until you are 26 years old, but the vaccination works better if you get it at a younger age (11 or 12 is best). Learn more about the HPV vaccine  and other STDs.  Visit the resource finder to find an immunization clinic near you.

Vaccines Help Keep You Healthy

Vaccines, also called immunizations, help protect you from a variety of serious diseases, such as whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis, the flu (influenza), and human papillomavirus (HPV). And getting vaccinated helps protect the people around you too. When young, healthy people like you get vaccinated, it’s less likely that serious diseases will spread to people who are too old, too young, or too sick to be vaccinated themselves. Check out some more reasons why getting vaccinated is important.

Babies, children, teens, and adults all need vaccines at different times of their lives. Most vaccines, like the ones for mumps, measles, rubella, and chicken pox, last for many years and help to prevent future illnesses. As you get older, however, protection from some childhood vaccines begins to wear off. New vaccines may be developed that didn’t exist when you were getting your childhood vaccines. You need to get some vaccines, like the flu shot, each year to help make sure you stay healthy.

What vaccines are right for you?

In general, these vaccines are recommended for all teens. You may need different vaccines if you have certain health conditions or are not caught up on the early childhood immunizations.

  • Tdap: One booster shot at age 11-12 protects you from tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis).
  • Meningococcal: One shot at age 11-12 and one at age 16 protects you from meningitis.
  • HPV: Three doses, starting at age 11-12, protect you from human papillomavirus.
  • Flu: Getting vaccinated every year protects you from influenza. 

If you haven't gotten all of your vaccines, don't worry--it's not too late to catch up! Talk to your doctor about what immunizations you might need.

How to get vaccinated

If you’re 18 or younger and living in Washington State, you can get vaccines for free through health care providers who participate in the state’s universal vaccine program. Take advantage now! If you’re 19 or older, your health insurance plan should pay for all recommended vaccines without any payment from you. There are many places you can go to get vaccinated. It’s easy to get and stay up to date, and there are lots of resources to help you.

  • Your health care provider
  • Immunization clinics
  • Community clinics
  • School nurses
  • Pharmacies
Call our hotline at 1-800-322-2588 if you have any questions about how to get health insurance or where you can get vaccines.

Learn More

Check out the schedule of vaccines if you are between age 7 and 18.

Check out the schedule of vaccines if you are over 18.

For more information about vaccines for teens, check here.