New York State Department of Health Endorses HPV Vaccination Earlier in Life to Reduce Future Cancer Risks

Two-Dose Vaccine for Children Starting at Age 9 Encouraged as a Safe and Effective Cancer Prevention Measure

On-Time Vaccination Proven to Reduce 90 Percent of HPV-Related Cancers

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 2, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health announced today its endorsement of the National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Roundtable's 'Start at Age 9' campaign. The HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90 percent of cancers caused by HPV from developing later in life.

"Getting the HPV vaccine series is the best protection against preventable cancers caused by HPV infection," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "As a pediatrician for more than three 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 that the vaccine offers."

The Department of Health recommends starting HPV vaccination for children at age 9 to prevent HPV-related cancer. This call-to-action joins the New York State Cancer Consortium, New York State HPV Coalition, Cancer Prevention in Action partners and more than 50 organizations around the state in support of starting the vaccine at a younger age to help decrease related cancers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has long stated that HPV vaccination can start at age 9 years, and the vaccine is FDA-approved for children 9 years and older.

Studies show the vaccine produces a stronger immune response in preteen and young teens compared to older teens and young adults who receive the vaccine. The New York State Prevention Agenda Dashboard shows that only 40.2 percent of eligible children get the vaccine by age 13. By starting HPV vaccination at a younger age, the Department hopes to see an increase in the percentage of 13-year-old adolescents with a complete HPV vaccine series.

There is no demonstrated advantage to vaccinating youth later in life - either after they reach puberty or when they become sexually active. In fact, two shots given at least six months apart provide the same protection for those younger than 15 years as three shots do for teens receiving them when they are 15 or older.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. There are many types of HPV, with some causing relatively minor health problems, such as genital warts, and others causing cancer. Of greater concern, however, is that more than 2,800 New Yorkers were diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer annually between 2015 and 2019, with about 59 percent of cases in women and 41 percent in men.

The risks associated with HPV infection often go unrecognized. About one in four New Yorkers surveyed by the Department of Health were unaware that HPV infection increases a person's risk of getting cancer, according to a report released in February 2023.

The HPV vaccine is given in a series of two or three shots, depending on the age 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, while those who start the series between ages 15 and 26, or anyone with a weak immune system between the age of 9 and 26, will need three doses for full protection; adults through age 45 who are not already vaccinated should speak to their physician on the benefits of vaccination.

By endorsing the 'Start at 9' campaign, the Department of Health acknowledges the HPV vaccine is safe to be administered to children 9 and older, with more than 10 years and ongoing post-licensure vaccine safety monitoring in the United States.

The vaccine 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 influenza vaccine

All private insurance plans that are regulated by New York State are required to cover the cost of vaccines, including HPV.

National organizations - including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Practice, the American Cancer Society, and the National HPV Roundtable –recommend starting the HPV vaccine series at the age of 9. The more than 50 New York State-based entities that endorse the 'Start at 9' campaign include the New York Academy of Family Physicians, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Independent Health, North Country Family Health Center, New York State Public Health Association, numerous local health departments, New York City Health and Hospitals and the Hispanic Health Network.

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