An unvaccinated Kentucky student lost his lawsuit challenging a ban placed on kids without vaccines.
Jerome Kunkel, 18, a senior at Assumption Academy in Boone County, Kentucky sued the Northern Kentucky Independent District Board of Health after it prohibited students without current vaccines from attending school and after-school activities during a chickenpox outbreak.
A judge sided with the health department on Tuesday when he ruled that the ban could remain in place. Students at the school in Walton, Kentucky, are experiencing an outbreak of chickenpox. As of March 14, there were 32 confirmed cases, according to the health department.
Kunkel has refused to get the chickenpox vaccine. He argues that his religious beliefs prevent him from receiving vaccines produced using cell lines derived from aborted fetuses generations ago – as is the case with the chickenpox vaccine.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center says the vaccine is OK because it doesn’t actually contain aborted cells.
Christopher Wiest, Kunkel’s lawyer, told The Enquirer that the student was “devastated” by the judge’s ruling. Wiest argued that banning unvaccinated students would not be effective in stopping the spread of the outbreak.
Jeff Mando, lawyer for the health department, said the ruling “upheld the health department’s mission to protect public health and the welfare of folks in northern Kentucky.”
Kunkel is a basketball player who is no longer allowed to attend school or participate in the school sport. The school has a mandatory vaccination program, but religious exemptions are allowed. The family attorney has previously stated that the family filled out the forms for exemption.
Chickenpox, which spreads through contact and the air, is preventable through the chickenpox vaccine. The virus can become serious for immuno-compromised people or infants, and can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, sepsis and even death.
Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report
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