Governor Matt Bevin from Kentucky said in a radio interview that he exposed all his nine children to chickenpox so they would get the contagious disease and become immune to it.
In an interview on Bowling Green radio station WKCT, he said his children were only ‘miserable for a few days’ after catching chickenpox and ‘they all turned out fine.’
He said in the interview: “Every single one of my kids had the chickenpox. They got the chickenpox on purpose because we found a neighbor that had it and I went and made sure every one of my kids was exposed to it, and they got it. They had it as children.”
Bevin and his wife have nine children, four were adopted.
Public health authorities discourage the practice of exposing kids to the virus. Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, said: “It’s unfortunate and not an example for any of us.”
He added: “We should vaccinate all our children. It’s a great triumph of public health in the United States. Let’s not take a step backward.”
Bevin asked in the interview: “Why are we forcing kids to get it? If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child. … And in many instances, those vaccinations make great sense. But for some people, and for some parents, for some reason they choose otherwise.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine not only for children but also for adolescents and adults who haven’t contracted the virus.
Schaffner added: “What the governor and other like-minded folks are unaware of is that there are potentially serious complications of chickenpox.”
Complications from chickenpox include pneumonia, bacterial infections and encephalitis.
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