The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Babies and toddlers receive a similar vaccine, but the protection wears off as children get older. Pre-teens and teens need a booster to protect them from serious illnesses. Tetanus is a very serious and painful toxin that can cause hospitalization or even death. Diphtheria can cause paralysis, heart failure or death. Pertussis or whooping cough spreads very easily and can be deadly for babies or elderly people. In Ohio, the Tdap vaccine is required for entry into the 7th Grade.