Why Vaccinations Are So Important to Your Family's Health


Dr. Jeremy Warhaftig, Pediatrician, South Shore Medical Center

Jeremy Warhaftig, MD, Pediatrician

The best defense is a good offense. No, I’m not talking about the upcoming New England Patriots season, although that seems fitting.

I’m talking about immunizations, and how important it is to combat potential outbreaks of diseases that are easily managed by making sure you and your family are up to date with your vaccinations. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and vaccinating yourself and your children continues to be a controversial topic, even though to me and other primary care providers, it shouldn’t be.

The controversy of MMR vaccine (immunization against measles) started in 1998 with the publishing of an article in the medical journal The Lancet, which stated that there was a correlation between vaccinations and autism. That study caused a major uproar and was a catalyst for the anti-vaccination movement.

The study was also entirely false.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other reputable organization in this country found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism after exhaustive studies, and The Lancet even retracted the story to further distance them from that initial controversial paper.

The invention of vaccinations is the single biggest thing that’s ever happened to improve the health of Americans.

We rarely see diseases like polio or have major outbreaks of measles and mumps because of proper immunizations. People who aren’t vaccinated don’t just put themselves at risk for exposing themselves to disease; they put the public at risk.

That’s why at South Shore Medical Center, we don’t accept patients who have not been vaccinated or refuse future vaccinations. We’ve chosen to take a hard line on this issue because we feel strongly about how it not only affects the health of patients who refuse the vaccine, but also our patients who have weakened immune systems due to cancer and other serious health conditions. Being around someone who is not vaccinated can cause major issues for our most vulnerable patients and we are not willing to put them at risk.

I vaccinate myself and my children. All of our health care providers at South Shore Medical do the same thing. We wouldn’t put our own children in harm’s way if we didn’t truly believe that vaccines are safe and effective. If you have questions or concerns, it’s important to talk to your primary care doctor about them and resist the urge to search the Internet for answers. These are discussions we want to have with you and we can share evidence-based research to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Update: This post drove a robust conversation on social media. Many of our Facebook followers had questions about which immunizations are required at South Shore Medical Center.

South Shore Medical Center strongly recommends that all children be immunized. The only patients exempt from this policy are those with specific health conditions. Parents with any questions are encouraged to speak with their child’s pediatrician.

South Shore Medical Center follows the Massachusetts School Immunization Requirements and requires that our pediatric patients receive the following vaccinations:

  • Hib
  • Tdap
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis B
  • MMR
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • DTaP

South Shore Medical Center also recommends the following vaccines for children (depending on age), but immunization is not required to receive care at our facilities:

  • Annual Flu vaccine
  • HPV
  • Hepatitis A
  • Pneumonia

We are committed to the health and safety of all of our patients.

Learn more about Primary Care at South Shore Health.