Whooping Cough Reminder: With Whooping Cough on the Rise, and a New School Year Starting, It’s Important for Kids to Get Vaccinated

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.

Spreading the whooping cough word online

In anticipation of the projected rise in whooping cough cases, Health

Net helped to create an innovative, social-media driven campaign to

educate teens about the importance of getting vaccinated. The campaign,

which is targeted toward teens ages 13 through 18 and can be accessed

nationwide at http://www.t2x.me/,

was launched last year as part of T2X, a health-literacy, social media

program that was created through a partnership between Health Net, UCLA

Fielding School of Public Health and EPG Technologies.

“Our whooping cough educational campaign is designed not only to inform

teens about the importance of getting vaccinated, but also to help them

feel comfortable about actually getting the vaccine,” explains Nancy

Wongvipat Kalev, MPH, Health Net’s director of Health Education and

Cultural Linguistic Services. “As a final component of the campaign,”

she adds, “we provide teens with tools to take the step of making a

vaccination appointment.”

The whooping cough campaign – which features whooping cough facts,

quizzes and videos – utilizes a variety of digital platforms to engage

and inform teens about this pressing medical issue. Feedback received

thus far from teens who’ve explored the campaign’s multi-faceted

components indicates that their knowledge about whooping cough has

increased, and they’re more positively inclined to get the vaccine.

Whooping cough vaccination recommendations

The CDC notes that there are two types of whooping cough vaccines – DTaP

for infants and children – and Tdap for adolescents and adults. The CDC

points out that Tdap is particularly important for family members

residing with an infant and for those who provide care for infants.

Following is a brief summary of the CDC’s whooping cough vaccination

recommendations:

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis.

Medical Advice Disclaimer

The information provided is not intended as medical advice or as a

substitute for professional medical care. Always seek the advice of your

physician or other health provider for any questions you may have

regarding your medical condition and follow your health care provider’s

instructions.

About Health Net

Health Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that

delivers managed health care services through health plans and

government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people

be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net, through its

subsidiaries, provides and administers health benefits to approximately

5.5 million individuals across the country through group, individual,

Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly

referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense,

including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Health Net’s

behavioral health services subsidiary, Managed Health Network, Inc.,

provides behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance

programs to approximately 4.8 million individuals, including Health

Net’s own health plan members. Health Net’s subsidiaries also offer

managed health care products related to prescription drugs, and offer

managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers and

administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits

programs.

For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s

website at www.healthnet.com.