When I became a mother, I knew one of the most important decisions I would make would be where to send my child to school. My family found a warm and welcoming private school we loved. My first child started there while I was pregnant with my second. What I didn’t know when I selected that school was that my family was entering a vaccine-hesitant community.

Despite state requirements, our school had not reported vaccination rates for several years. During our fourth year there, I learned that my child’s kindergarten had a 40 percent vaccination rate. I felt betrayed by a community I had trusted to protect my family, including my baby, who was too young to be vaccinated. I knew we also had parents and students who had compromised immune systems or were undergoing cancer treatment.

Simply put, our warm and welcoming school community failed to protect its most vulnerable members, exposing them to unnecessary risk. Further, our pocket of high vaccine opt-outs has the ability to affect dozens of communities.

Recently a student undertook a mapping project that showed our community members reside in a broad area of midcoast Maine, encompassing many other towns.

We all deserve safe schools and communities, free from the threat of disease. We all have a responsibility to protect our community’s most vulnerable members. As a concerned parent and member of a vaccine-hesitant school community, I’m voting “no” on Question 1 on March 3.

Maura Pillsbury

Freeport

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