ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - As summer break draws to an end for South Carolina students, parents of 7th graders need to know about new vaccination requirements before their child can attend class.
It's a sound South Carolina health officials are trying to hear less this year, Whooping cough.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there were more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough nationwide last year, the highest numbers seen since 1955.
Before 7th graders return to class in a couple of weeks, they must have a Tdap vaccination.
In an effort to assist parents in meeting new school requirements, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will offer free Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines at mass vaccination clinics across the state in August.
"In 2012 for South Carolina we had 230 cases of whooping cough reported to us and majority of those were kids under 2 and kids the ages between 10 and 17, so as a group 7th graders have a risk for getting whooping cough," said Dr. Riyad Muhammad with South Carolina DHEC
All South Carolina 7th graders are required to have the Tdap shot to attend class this school year, but we found one parent who said she didn't know about the new announcement until we informed her.
"I did not. I knew I had to get my 4-year-olds ready for school, but I dint know that 7th graders needed the whooping cough shot. Most definitely caught me off guard," said Casandra Smith.
Smith was getting her two 4-year-olds- vaccinations, Wednesday, in Rock Hill.
She has a 7th grader who will attend Dutchman Creek Middle School this year and applauds health officials for being proactive against a disease that is so easily spread.
"80% of people who come in contact with a sick person can end up with whooping cough themselves, so its very contagious," said Dr. Muhammad.
"With all the stuff that's going around, I'd rather them be prepared," said Smith.
Free Tdap shots will also be given to pregnant woman and those who work with infants under 12 months.
To find where you can get the free vaccination, click here.