As the debate of whether or not to vaccinate heats up in light of the recent increased cases of measles, a Kentucky governor admits he sent his nine children to a “chickenpox party” rather than have them vaccinated against the disease.
According to CNN, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin preferred his children to be exposed to the virus naturally rather than have them vaccinated against it. He then described the event to WKCT, a Bowling Green radio station.
“They had it as children,” Bevin explained.
“They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.”
Bevin explained to the radio station that when he discovered that a child of one of their neighbors had the chickenpox virus, the conscious decision was made to expose all of his children to the virus. This is often referred to as having a “chickenpox party” in which healthy children are exposed to a sick child in order to build up their natural immunity to the virus. It is usually believed that it is better for someone to catch chickenpox when they are a child as to do so as an adult can have severe consequences in susceptible individuals.
“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,” Bevan explained.
While Bevin allowed his children to be exposed to the virus as a way to build up immunity to the illness, he also stated that he was not necessarily anti-vaccination in his stance. Instead, he insisted that he supported both sides of the argument. He believes that it is not up to the government to regulate whether or not children are vaccinated but that the decision should be made by parents.
“If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child,” Bevan said in the interview.
“But for some people, and for some parents, for some reason, they choose otherwise. This is America. The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t.”
Currently, government regulations suggest that two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are commended after initial studies found that one dose did not always initiate full immunity to the virus. While chickenpox is considered one of the lesser childhood illnesses, with vaccinations, it is believed that 3.5 million cases are prevented every year.