Student Sues School After It Bans Unvaccinated Students

NBC News

Sara Sanguinetti, Staff Writer

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Jerome Kunkel, a high school senior from Walton, Kentucky, is suing his local health department after it banned unvaccinated students from going to school and participating in school related activities.

In mid March, the Northern Kentucky Health Department put out a statement banning children who did not have their chicken pox vaccine from attending school “until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last “ill student or staff member”. Activities such as school sports were also canceled.

Kunkel sued the school after it bans unvaccinated students.


Kunkel, who attends Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy, refuses to get the vaccine because of his religious beliefs. “I don’t believe in that vaccine at all,” said Bill Kunkel, his father. “They are trying to push it on us.” They both allege in the lawsuit that because of this ban, their beliefs are being discriminated against.

Because of the ban, Kunkel is not allowed to finish his last season of high school basketball.

The fact that I can’t finish my senior year of basketball, like our last couple games is pretty devastating,” he said.

Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease that can seriously harm babies, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. It is characterized by itchy, blister-like rashes, fatigue, and fever. A vaccine can fully protect people from it for years at a time. As of March 14th, there have been 32 reported cases of chicken pox at Kunkel’s school.

Some Christians refuse vaccinations because they belief they derive from cell lines from aborted fetuses. In response to this notion, the National Catholic Bioethics Center released a statement, saying, “The risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children.”

Many Christians refuse to get vaccinated due to personal religious beliefs.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department defended their ban, stating, “The recent actions taken by the Northern Kentucky Health Department…was in direct response to a public health threat and was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness.”

A court hearing is set for April 1st. It’s unclear whether Kunkel and his family will successfully get their point across, but the safety and health of the other students may take more precedent in the lawsuit.

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