The Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin has boasted of exposing all nine of his children to chickenpox rather than have them vaccinated against the disease.
During a radio interview in the town of Bowling Green, Mr Bevin said ensuring his children all contracted chickenpox was a sound move.
“They had it as children. They were miserable for a few days, and they all turned out fine,” he said.
And he said he was opposed to the Government mandating vaccinations. He said it should be up to parents whether they immunise their children against disease.
“This is America. The federal government should not be forcing this upon people. They just shouldn’t,” he said.
Mr Bevin and his wife Glenna have nine children between the ages of 5 and 16.
Chickenpox is extremely contagious and can be spread by touching or breathing in virus particles. It can be particularly dangerous for babies and pregnant women and for people whose immune systems are already down.
The vaccination debate is currently fierce in Kentucky, where a teenager is suing his local health department for temporarily banning students who had not been vaccinated against chickenpox from attending their school.
The ban was in reaction to a chickenpox outbreak at a Catholic school, where 32 cases had been reported.
The teenager and his father said they were being discriminated against due to their religious beliefs, because some Catholics fear that some vaccines could be derived from cell lines associated with abortion.
But, according to CNN, the Northern Kentucky Health Department argued the school ban “was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness” and has not backed down.