In a radio interview this week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) announced that he had intentionally exposed his nine children to chickenpox, rather than vaccinate them.

He told Bowling Green talk radio station, WKCT,

“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.”1

Bevin doesn’t think the government should mandate vaccines,

“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.”1

The CDC “strongly warns” against parents purposely exposing their kids to chickenpox as a way of immunizing them, but why? After all, the chickenpox vaccine doesn’t offer lifetime immunity and natural chickenpox does. Also, parents have been doing this for decades.


In Kentucky, children are required to be vaccinated for chickenpox before they begin kindergarten, although parents may seek religious exemptions or provide medical documentation that their child has already had the disease. (We’re curious if they didn’t go to the doctor how they did that. Titers, maybe? My case of chickenpox was so mild that my mom never took me and said there was no reason. She said, “Why make drama?” (My mom is pro-vaccine but had the measles, mumps, pertussis, scarlet fever, and chicken pox and is healthy in her 70s.)


The governor’s remarks come at a sensitive time; this week a Kentucky Catholic school reported a “chickenpox outbreak.”

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Erin Elizabeth


  1. HuffPost