Vaccination is popularly recommended to build protection from infectious diseases.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, however, opted for another way to build his children's immunity.
Intentional Exposure To Chickenpox
In a radio interview with Bowling Green talk radio station WKCT on Tuesday, Bevin said he intentionally exposed his nine kids to chickenpox instead of having them vaccinated against the disease.
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is characterized by itchy, blister-like rashes in the body.
Bevin said he made sure that one of his kids was exposed to the disease when he learned a neighbor had it.
He also thinks vaccines should not be mandated by the government.
"Why are we forcing kids to get it?" Bevin said. "If you are worried about your child getting chickenpox or whatever else, vaccinate your child. ... And in many instances, those vaccinations make great sense. But for some people, and for some parents, for some reason they choose otherwise."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against exposing children to chickenpox as a way to immunize them. It warned that there is no way to tell in advance how severe a child's symptoms will be.
While most people who contract the disease recover without lasting effects, the disease can cause devastating impacts to certain individuals including those with a weakened immune system. In the worst cases, chickenpox can lead to severe complications and even death. Complications include pneumonia, bacterial infections, and encephalitis.
The CDC recommends protecting infants and children by getting them vaccinated. The agency also said that vaccination helps protect the community, including people who cannot get vaccinated.
Herd immunity arises when a high percentage of the population is protected against bacteria or virus through vaccination. The disease is not easily spread because of a few susceptible people to infect.
"When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself and others in your family and community. This protection is especially important for people who cannot get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems, or pregnant women," the CDC said.
In Kentucky, children are required to be vaccinated for chickenpox before they enter kindergarten but parents can seek religious exemptions, or provide proof their child already had the disease.