Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin told a Bowling Green radio station Tuesday that he deliberately exposed his nine children to chickenpox rather than get them vaccinated against the contagious disease. The Republican’s comments come after a Catholic high school in his state in the midst of a chickenpox outbreak that has sickened at least 32 students and prompted the Northern Kentucky Health Department to ban unvaccinated students from attending school until three weeks after the last student has showed symptoms.
Gov. Bevin, who was in the bell manufacturing business before running for office, added his medical advice gleaned from the internet. “Every single one of my kids had the chickenpox,” Bevin said in the interview with WKCT. “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.”
“Before the vaccine became available in 1995 [according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] an estimated 8,000 up to 18,000 people were hospitalized each year with chickenpox and about 100 to 150 people died each year from the infection, the Courier-Journal reports. Medical experts advise against Bevin’s now-dated tactic of exposing children to chickenpox as an unnecessary risk now that there is the vaccine, which is far safer and helps prevents shingles later in life. As such, the state of Kentucky mandates all students entering school be vaccinated for chickenpox, with some religious exemptions. An unvaccinated student filed suit against the health department saying that preventing him from attending school due to his unvaccinated status violated his religious rights. Jerome Kunkel, a senior at the school, said in the suit he refused the vaccination, he says, “due to its being derived from aborted fetal cells.”
“And I think, why are we forcing kids to get it?” Bevin said in the radio interview. “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.”
This is America. Where the right to get whatever antiquated disease you want is unalienable and the root of all freedom.