The CDC has updated its vaccine recommendations for kids and teens.

The changes include new vaccines. “Thanks to new vaccines, we can now protect children and adolescents from more diseases than at any time in our history,” says the CDC’s Anne Schuchat, MD, in a news release.

“In almost every case, vaccines are the best and most effective way to prevent the harm that is caused by these infectious diseases,” she says. Schuchat directs the CDC’s National Immunization Program.

Here’s what you need to know about the new recommendations for children and teens.

Vaccination Delays Put Many Children at Risk

Whooping Cough Booster for Preteens

A new booster vaccine for whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, and diphtheria should be given to the following groups:

--All 11- and 12-year-olds who completed earlier vaccinations and haven’t gotten a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot.

--All 13- to 18-year-olds who completed childhood vaccinations but didn’t get the booster shot when they were 11 or 12.

The new vaccine replaces a previous booster shot that didn’t cover whooping cough. Whooping cough is highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract. It’s most dangerous in babies, but it’s been on the rise in adults.

Children and teens aged 7-18 who missed childhood vaccines can take the whooping cough/tetanus/diphtheria shot to catch up or for regularly scheduled boosters. The CDC recommends waiting five years after the last tetanus/diphtheria dose before using the whooping cough/tetanus/diphtheria vaccine as a booster dose.

The CDC first announced its recommendation about the new booster vaccine in July.

Kids’ Vaccines Do Not Lead to Other Illnesses

Meningitis Vaccine for Adolescents

A meningitis vaccine called Menactra, which was approved by the FDA a year ago, is also recommended for:

--All 11- and 12-year-olds

--Adolescents entering high school who haven’t already gotten the vaccine

--All college freshmen living in dorms (who have the additional option of getting a different meningitis vaccine)

--Other adolescents who choose to get the vaccine to reduce their risk

The CDC first announced its Menactra recommendationsin May.

In October 2005, the FDA, the CDC, and Menactra’s maker, Sanofi Pasteur, warned that five U.S. teens developed a serious neurological conditioncalled Guillain-Barré syndrome after being vaccinated with Menactra.

At the time, a Sanofi Pasteur news release stated that there was no proof that Menactra was responsible for those teens developing Guillain-Barré syndrome.

New Children's Vaccine Targets 4 Diseases

Influenza Vaccine for More Kids

Influenza vaccination is now recommended for children who are at least 6 months old and have certain health problems; specifically, those conditions that can compromise children's respiratory systems or raise the risk of choking.

WebMD Childhood Immunization Planner

Hepatitis A Vaccine for 1-Year-Olds

The CDC recommends that all babies get vaccinated against hepatitis A between 12 and 23 months.

The vaccine is given in two doses. Those doses should be given at least six months apart, the CDC says.

Hepatitis B Vaccine for Almost All Babies

The CDC is emphasizing the importance of vaccinating infants against hepatitis B.

The vaccine can only be delayed “in rare circumstances,” the CDC states.

Delays are only permitted if a doctor orders the vaccine to be withheld and the baby’s medical record includes a lab report showing that the mother has tested negative for hepatitis B.

Learn More About Hepatitis

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Jan. 6, 2006; vol 54: pp Q1-Q4. News release, CDC.