A Kentucky governor came under fire after he confessed to practicing natural immunity, despite warnings against so-called “chickenpox parties.”
During a radio interview this week with Bowling Green’s radio station WKCT, Governor Matt Bevin said all five of his biological kids and four adopted of his children were subjected to the childhood disease on purpose.
“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. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.”
Public health experts called the practice unsafe and strongly warned parents against deliberately exposing children to harmful diseases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated:
In the past, some parents participated in ‘chickenpox parties’ to intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to a child with chickenpox in hopes that they would get the disease […] The best way to protect infants and children against chickenpox is to get them vaccinated.
Dr. Robert Jacobson, a pediatrician and expert in vaccines and childhood diseases at the Mayo Clinic, told the Courier-Journal:
“I would never recommend or advise it. It’s just dangerous.”
In the Tuesday interview, the Republican governor said parents worried about chickenpox should prevent the viral disease through vaccines.
However, he believes the government should not force families to vaccinate their children. Bevin said:
“Why are we forcing kids to get it [the chickenpox vaccine]? If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child … 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.”
A spokeswoman for Bevin did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.
Before vaccines became available, chickenpox parties used to be popular for disease prevention.
However, Dr. Jacobson said, “we’re no longer living in the 17th century.” Vaccines are safer and more effective at preventing diseases such as the chickenpox or measles.
Kentucky law requires children to be vaccinated for chickenpox before entering kindergarten.
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