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Vaccine Checklist for Preteens and Teens

Why Should My Child Get the Vaccine?

The flu is highly contagious, which means it's easily spread from person to person. You can get the flu if someone with the flu sneezes, coughs, or talks around you, even if they are as far as six feet away. You can also get it simply by touching an object that is contaminated with the flu virus, such as a doorknob, and then touching your nose or mouth.
The flu vaccine is the best way to protect your teen or preteen from the flu. Making sure your adolescent is vaccinated also helps prevent them from spreading the flu to others, which means you're not only protecting your teen or preteen, you're helping your community as well. 
You may wonder why the flu vaccine is necessary every year. This is because the flu vaccine changes from year to year, in response to the constantly changing flu viruses. Each year, scientists closely study flu virus patterns to determine which viruses we need to worry about in the upcoming flu season. They then make a new vaccine to protect against those strains of flu virus.

When Should My Child Get It?

Your child should get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available, which is usually in the fall. It takes about two weeks for the body to respond to the vaccine and build immunity.
There are a couple of different vaccines available -- a flu vaccine injection (the flu shot) and a nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist®. If your preteen or teen isn't pregnant and is otherwise healthy (which means he or she doesn't have other medical problems that could increase the risk for flu complications), they can get the nasal spray form of the vaccine. Everyone else should get the flu shot.
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