06/11/2013 12:08 EDT | Updated 08/11/2013 05:12 EDT

The Very Real Consequences of Not Vaccinating Your Child

"We sat down and said hippies, because we were hippies about it. We used our intuition and feelings but there's no place for it. There's just statistics on disease and adverse reactions."

Stories that go viral about parenting always tweak interest because usually they share a new perspective or one that is against the grain. And then there are articles like the one circulating out of New Zealand and Australia, where there is a real lesson to be learned.

The story of young Alijah Williams popped up on my news-feed more times than I can count. His parents made the decision for him to not immunize him against lethal diseases and, at age seven, Alijah was hospitalized with tetanus, a disease that wreaked havoc on his young body, and against which he should have been immunized.

His parents are no dummies and not ignorant of what science says about the importance and safety of vaccines. In fact, his father Ian is a scientist.

"When it came to my kid's health, I let the hippie win. I should have let the science win," Williams' father Ian said.

Related: Forgive Me Fellow Parents, For I Have Sinned

All of the Googling and general science knowledge in the world will not and cannot replace years of research and study on vaccines and both their efficacy and safety. And yet parents consistently choose not to vaccinate children based on their own 'research.'

"Parents like us make the decision to not vaccinate on very little factual information about the actual consequences of the diseases," Williams said.

The risk of getting the diseases these vaccines protect against, and having permanent and possible lethal consequences from them, far outweigh the risk of getting the vaccine in the first place. In fact, according to the article, not one person in New Zealand has died as a result of getting the tetanus shot. In fact, according to the article, "about one in 1 million will suffer a bad reaction to the tetanus vaccine, such as painful nerve inflammation while Alijah had a one in 10 chance of dying from tetanus."

It is the height of hubris to look at science, look at statistics and look at Health Canada recommendations and, unless you have a background in science and have heavily studied vaccines in the course of your education, assume you know better. It is also a dangerous decision to make on behalf of someone who has no say, but can suffer the consequences.

It's hard to imagine as a parent saying this: "I was holding the hand of my kid who had an arched back, the muscles could break his bones at any second, and his heart could stop," and knowing he could have prevented it.

Written by Leslie Kennedy for

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