New York State Department of Health Reminds People to Get Vaccinated for Preventable Diseases like Measles, Flu and HPV

Department Launches Two Public Service Campaigns to Help Promote Vaccination

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 2, 2019) - The New York State Department of Health is reminding people that August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time to make sure you and your children are up to date on your vaccines. A new requirement Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in June ended all non-medical exemptions for vaccines required for children to attend all public, private and parochial schools, as well as childcare programs.

"Vaccines are proven safe and are the most effective way to protect against preventable diseases like measles, influenza and the potentially cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV," said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "With school starting next month, August is a great time to make sure your children are up to date on all of their immunizations."

"Ensuring that your children are up to date on their vaccinations should be on everyone's back to school list," said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. "Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to protect our students from debilitating diseases, and I am thankful for the work of our partners at the Health Department for spreading that message through their PSA and promotional efforts."

New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Sheila Poole said, "It is imperative to remember it's far better to prevent disease than to treat it. Children can be given immunity to a disease without getting sick first—but only if they receive vaccinations that can be life-saving. OCFS stands firmly with our partners at the Department of Health in urging all New Yorkers to be sure their children and families are up to date with vaccinations, and reminding all child care programs to prominently post information about influenza when flu season arrives this fall."

The United States is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles in more than 25 years, with outbreaks in pockets of New York primarily driving the crisis. With more than 1,000 cases statewide since the outbreak began in October 2018, the Department of Health has been working with local health departments in impacted communities to increase vaccination rates and contain the disease's spread. Since last October, more than 94,000 vaccines have been administered in Rockland, Westchester, Sullivan and Orange Counties and in Williamsburg and Borough Park in Brooklyn, a 70% increase in the number of vaccines administered from the previous year.

To help promote vaccination during National Immunization Awareness Month, NYS DOH has launched two public service campaigns. The first public service announcement, reminding parents of the new vaccine requirements ahead of the start of school, debuted this week statewide. And the second PSA, featuring State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, discusses the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. It ran from June 5 – June 18 and will return for a statewide audience in late August.

Under the new law ending all nonmedical vaccine exemptions, children who were not previously vaccinated will have 14 days from the first day of school to receive the first age appropriate dose in each immunization series, and 30 days from the first day of school to schedule follow-up appointments. Parents and guardians must demonstrate that their child has appointments scheduled for the next follow-up doses in accordance with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) schedule. However, the actual appointments for the follow-up doses may be more than 30 days out, so long as they are in accordance with the ACIP schedule.

A list of all required childhood vaccines can be found here.

The Department strongly recommends making sure children have all available vaccines, including one that can protect against certain cancers by immunizing recipients to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common infection which usually clears up on its own, but for some people an untreated infection can lead to cancer. HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers and is linked to other cancer types in men and women, including cancer of the mouth, throat, anus, vagina and penis. But, with only about 60% of female and 50% of male adolescents in New York State completing the two-dose vaccine series as recommended, not all New Yorkers in need are getting the vaccine.

Children ages 11 to 12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine, in addition to getting the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough), and meningitis vaccines. Anyone living in crowded quarters, like college dormitories or military barracks, should also consider receiving a meningitis vaccine.

The Department of Health has been working with the State University of New York Upstate Medical University to provide academic detailing, also known as peer-to-peer education, to pediatric and family practices emphasizing the importance of HPV vaccination and how to offer parents and patients a strong recommendation. Overall, the practices saw the largest improvements in vaccine initiation rates among patients aged 11-12 years and vaccine completion rates among patients aged 13-18 years. More information about this intervention and its successes can be found here.

And with flu season right around the corner, fall is the perfect time to get the influenza vaccine. More than 100,000 New Yorkers got the flu last winter. The Department of Health recommends that anyone over the age of six months should get the flu vaccine annually. Thanks to a law Governor Cuomo signed last year, children as young as two years can now get flu shots at their local pharmacies without a prescription.

Unlike most vaccines, the flu shot is one people of all ages need annually. While everyone should get the flu shot, it's particularly important for people at high risk for serious complications from the flu, including older people, pregnant women, young children and people with certain health conditions. Infants under six months of age have a higher risk of flu complications than children of any other age, yet they are too young for the flu vaccine.

Those who live or work with people who are at high risk of flu complications should get a flu vaccine to keep from spreading the flu to them.

For more information, visit