COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's public health agency is offering free whooping cough vaccinations at clinics statewide next month.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said Tuesday the vaccinations are required for all rising seventh graders starting this school year. They will be offered free at clinics in every county.

The vaccine is a booster to the whooping cough vaccine given to infants. It protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. The vaccine's protection can diminish by the time children are 10.

The vaccine is recommended for children older than 10, anyone who spends time around infants less than a year old, and pregnant women. It's also recommended for anyone who hasn't received a tetanus shot or the booster in 10 years.

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One the Internet:

Schedule for free clinics statewide: http://www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/immunization/tdap_clinics.htm