Student sues to prevent getting chickenpox vaccine, contracts virus two months later
An unvaccinated teenager went to court two months ago over a chickenpox policy in Kentucky schools that placed a temporary ban on students not immune to the disease. And now in a severe case of irony, Jerome Kunkel has come down with the illness, his lawyer revealed on Wednesday.
Kunkel had filed a suit against the local health department after they placed a temporary ban on students not immune against chickenpox from coming to classes and extracurricular activities at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton, Kentucky.
Reports state that the high school senior refused to get vaccinated because of his faith. The teenager's father, Bill Kunkel, while talking to WLWT, said that they object to the particular vaccine because he believed it was formulated from "aborted fetuses."
Kunkel, however, contracted chickenpox last week, according to his attorney Christopher Wiest, who added that he has since recovered.
The teenager, who has been out of school since mid-march, went back to school on Wednesday. "Jerome is in a catch-up mode. He feels like they kind of ruined his senior year," the attorney said.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department, in March, announced the policy following a chickenpox outbreak in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy, which affected at least 32 people. The people reportedly included at least 13 percent of the school's student body.
The health department barred students who were not vaccinated or immune from entering the school for at least 21 days after the last case of the virus reported on the premises.
Shortly after the implementation of the policy, Kunkel filed the lawsuit, particularly because the health department's policy affected his basketball season, according to reports.
"The fact that I can't finish my senior year of basketball, like our last couple games are pretty devastating. I mean you go through four years of high school playing basketball, but you look forward to your senior year," he told the outlet in March.
A Kentucky judge rejected Kunkel's suit. According to the judge's ruling, the school's principal had told a health official that none of the basketball team members were vaccinated for chickenpox. A school official also told the local health department that only 18 percent of the school's students are fully vaccinated.
The teen's attorney, however, said that the health department's decision of not permitting unvaccinated students on the premises did not help much.
"Their ban didn't stop these kids from going to church together," Wiest said on Wednesday. "Their ban is going to be ineffective from the start. The quickest way to get them back to school is to get it naturally."
The Northern Kentucky Health Department, however, expressed concern over Wiest's comments and released a statement, saying: "Encouraging the spread of an acute infectious disease in a community demonstrates a callous disregard for the health and safety of friends, family, neighbors, and unsuspecting members of the general public."
"A person who has contracted chickenpox can be infectious for up to 2 days before experiencing the rash that is associated with the virus," the statement said, adding that the temporary bans "are designed to prevent unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the virus from infecting members of the general public while they are infectious."