ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease, can cause various types of cancers in both men and women. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are believed to be from HPV, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Although rates vary by county, the number of adolescents who received the HPV vaccine increased between 2018 and 2020 in New York, according to a report from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). The organization said breaking from trends seen for other vaccinations, Black and Hispanic teens had the highest rates of HPV vaccination.

“HPV vaccines are highly effective and safe,” said President and CEO of NYSHealth David Sandman, Ph.D. “It’s especially encouraging that Black and Hispanic New Yorkers, who fare worse on many health outcomes, have the highest rates of HPV vaccination coverage.”

“Just five years ago, the HPV immunization rate in our office was roughly 25 percent,” said Chief of Pediatrics for St. Peter’s Hospital, and provider with St. Peter’s Health Center for Children, Dr. Mark Osborn. “It’s now up to 70 percent, which is consistent with gains seen across New York state.”

HPV vaccination rates among 13-year-olds for seven Capital Region counties were included in the report. Warren County had the highest rate of vaccination (35%), followed by Albany County (29.4%), and Greene County (27.1%). Schoharie (16.5%), Columbia (21.7%), and Saratoga (22.3%) Counties had the lowest rates. Washington County had a rate of 23.6%.

“The takeaway from this, which should motivate parents, is that this is the only shot we have that prevents cancer (specifically, this vaccine protects against cervical, genital, oral, and anal cancers related to HPV),” Dr. Osborn said. “Further supporting the case for vaccination, these vaccines have demonstrated safety and efficacy after many years of research and many thousands of doses.”

Increased HPV vaccination rates may be contributed to better communication between health providers and parents, expanding adolescent self-consent policies, and school-based HPV vaccination centers. NYSHealth said to continue improving rates New York could consider requiring HPV vaccinations for school attendance, and a study on pharmacists administering the vaccine.