New York State Department of Health Recognizes International HPV Awareness Day and Urges New Yorkers to Get Vaccinated

Report: 1 in 4 New Yorkers Were Unaware HPV Increases Risk of Cancer

The Vaccine is a Safe and Effective Cancer Prevention Measure

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 3, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes March 4 as International HPV Awareness Day and stresses the importance of screenings and getting vaccinated for human papillomavirus (HPV). International HPV Awareness Day was established to help spread awareness about HPV and educate people about the importance of vaccination and other preventive measures.

"Getting the HPV vaccine series is the best protection against preventable cancers caused by HPV infection," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "As a pediatrician for over 3 decades, I have great confidence in this vaccine and urge all parents and guardians to talk with their child's provider about the HPV vaccine and enjoy the peace of mind the protection of the vaccine offers."

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Over 40 types of HPV can infect the genital area, anus, mouth, or throat. If left untreated or undiagnosed it can cause HPV-related cancers, many that are preventable with the vaccine. An average of 2,821 New Yorkers were diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer each year between 2015 and 2019, with about 59 percent of cases in women and 41 percent in men.

Too often, individuals do not understand the risks associated with HPV infection. According to a report released by the Department, 1 in 4 New Yorkers who were surveyed were unaware that HPV infection increases a person's risk of getting cancer. Even though the HPV vaccine can prevent many cancers, more than 35 percent of adolescents in New York State are not getting the vaccine as recommended. The Department works closely with the NYS Cancer Consortium's HPV Coalition, local health departments, and Cancer Prevention in Action partners to increase HPV vaccination rates and reduce the burden of HPV‐related cancers and diseases.

The HPV vaccine is given in a series of two or three shots, depending on the age of the patient when the series is started. Individuals who start the HPV vaccine series between the ages of 9 and 14 need two shots at least six months apart. Those who start the series later – between ages 15 and 26 – and anyone who has a weak immune system (age 9 through 26) will need three doses for full protection from the virus.

Adults through age 45 who were not already vaccinated might choose to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with a doctor about the benefits and potential risks of vaccination.

The vaccine is safe and effective and can be administered at the same time as other recommended vaccines, including:

  • Tdap (which prevents tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or whooping cough)
  • Meningococcal vaccine (which prevents meningitis)
  • COVID-19 and flu vaccine

All private insurance plans that are regulated by New York State are required to cover the cost of Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)-recommended vaccines, including HPV.

Local health departments or federally designated health facilities may participate in the NYSDOH Vaccines for Adults Program, which gives the vaccination free of charge, for anyone who are uninsured or underinsured and over the age of 18. Since 2021, pharmacists in New York State are also allowed to administer the HPV vaccine to individuals who are 18 years of age and older.

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