PORTSMOUTH-It's summer, but it's not too early to think about getting ready for the new school year.

The Portsmouth Health Department is offering free walk-in clinics for all kindergartners and rising 6th graders at its office at located at 1701 High Street.

You'll need to bring a copy of your child's current immunization record.

The special clinics are set for:
-July 31 from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
-August 10 from 9:00 a.m. to noon
-August 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Health officials say all rising sixth graders are required to have Tdap, a combination of three vaccines that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

All incoming kindergartners are required to have DTaP, Polio, MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) and the Varicella (chicken pox) vaccines.

Tetanus (Lockjaw) causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body. It can lead to tightening of muscles in the head and neck so you can't open your mouth, swallow, or sometimes even breathe. Tetanus kills about 1 out of 5 people who are infected.

Diphtheria can cause a thick coating to form in the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death.

Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep. It can also lead to weight loss, incontinence, and rib fractures. Up to 2 in 100 adolescents and 5 in 100 adults with pertussis are hospitalized or have complications, which could include pneumonia or death.

These diseases are caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds.

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