According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of whooping cough cases in the United States could reach a 50-year high in 2012. The CDC’s forecast is based on the fact that, as of July 2012, twice as many cases of whooping cough – or pertussis as it’s referred to clinically – had been reported to the CDC thus far this year as compared to the same point in 2011. The CDC says that more than 22,000 cases of whooping cough – as well as 13 deaths – have been reported to the CDC through Aug. 11, 2012. In light of this disturbing and potentially deadly trend, Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is working to increase awareness regarding the importance of infants, children, adolescents and adults getting a whooping cough vaccine or booster shot. “Whooping cough is a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease that can cause violent coughing spasms for up to 10 weeks,” explains Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net, Inc. “That’s why Health Net is committed to educating the public about the importance of getting the whooping cough vaccination.” Scheff added, “The CDC reports that unvaccinated children have eight times the risk for contracting whooping cough than do those children who receive the vaccine. Also, when vaccinated children do come down with the disease, not only are their symptoms milder, but they are less likely to pass their infection onto others.” Scheff went on to say that, in California, receipt of the vaccine is legally required for students in the seventh through twelfth grades. As a result of a law passed in September 2010, students in California who are entering the seventh grade, as well as transfer students who are entering the eighth through twelfth grades, must show proof of having received a whooping cough booster shot.