NEW YORK (AP) — The number of whooping cough cases has tripled in New York, and Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on health officials to provide free vaccinations.

On Sunday, the senator urged the federal government to work with health officials in every state to make sure adults get vaccinated for free if they haven’t been since age 18.

He points out the cough is very contagious and especially dangerous if transmitted to young children.

This could be the worst year for whooping cough in this country in a half century, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far this year, 1,288 cases have been reported in New York state, three times the number from 2011. There have been 187 cases in New York City and 333 on Long Island.

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(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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