As a pediatrician, I have fears and worries when it comes to caring for Maine’s children.

I’m worried about a pervasive and growing skepticism of science. I worry about the spread of dangerous and inaccurate medical advice online, as highlighted in the recent death from influenza of a Colorado 4-year-old whose parent sought advice from nonmedical professionals in the “Stop Mandatory Vaccination” Facebook group instead of following their doctor’s recommendations, NBC News and other outlets have reported.

I’m worried and fearful about an outbreak occurring in one of our local schools if our vaccination rates continue to decline. I worry about how our health system would respond in the face of an outbreak, and whether we would be able to recognize and contain it quickly enough. The effectiveness of childhood vaccination programs means that younger physicians may have never diagnosed certain vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles or chickenpox.

I especially worry about those who can’t be vaccinated (including young infants, children with immunodeficiencies and patients undergoing cancer treatment) because of how perilous an outbreak could be for them.

Proponents of the referendum question are harnessing voters’ fears and worries to cast doubt upon one of the greatest public health advances of modern times. If you have questions or concerns about vaccinations, please seek out a trusted and knowledgeable source of information: your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider.

Please join me and nearly 60 major health organizations in Maine on March 3 and vote “no” on 1 so we can all worry less about dangerous preventable diseases.

Joseph Anderson, DO

South Portland

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