“Every single one of my kids had the chickenpox,” Bevin said during an interview with Bowling Green radio station WKCT on Tuesday. “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 said that all nine kids, who he has with wife Glenna, “were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine.”
The Republican governor went on to explain that while he is not anti-vaccine, he doesn’t believe that the government should require parents to vaccinate their children. While talking to WKCT, he advised parents, “If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child.”
He then added, “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.”
Bevin’s controversial comments came after a recent outbreak of chickenpox at a Kentucky Catholic high school, where an unvaccinated student is suing the Kentucky Department of Health after he was banned from school.
Kentucky currently mandates that all children entering kindergarten must be vaccinated. However, parents can opt to claim a religious exemption or provide proof that the child has already had the disease.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns against exposing unvaccinated kids to chickenpox as Bevin did. “Chickenpox can be serious and can lead to severe complications and death, even in healthy children,” the agency says on its website. “There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be. It is not worth taking the chance.”