NORFOLK -- Officials with the Norfolk Public Health Department are reminding parents to get their sixth graders the Tdap vaccine before the start of school.
Officials said last year 32 percent of Norfolk sixth graders couldn't start school on the first day because they didn't have their documented vaccine.
The Tdap is a booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
Virginia Commissioner of Health Dr. Cynthia Romero says whooping cough can lead to long hospitalizations, especially in older kids because they may try to hide their symptoms from their parents.
Immunization Director Joyce Sample, R.N. says, "It is devastating for anyone who has whooping cough. You can cough so much that it's deadly."
As of Tuesday, there are about 650 more sixth graders that need to get the Tdap vaccine in Norfolk, officials said.
On August 14 and 28, students can get free vaccinations at the Norfolk Public Health Center on Southampton Ave. from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Parents need to bring immunization records and insurance documentation. For more information call 757-355-5666.
The clinic at 207 Little Creek Rd. is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information call 757-451-7510.