One vial of varicella virus, a powder substance stored therein, the freezer and the sterile diluent mixed therewith to prepare the solution for immunizing children against chickenpox. (Photo: Eric Seals, DETROIT FREE PRESS)

An 18-year-old Catholic high school student who has not been vaccinated against chickenpox filed a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department last week.

Jerome Kunkel, a senior at the Assumption Academy in Walton, claims that health officials violated his religious freedom and other rights by ordering students without a vaccine to attend school or extracurricular activities.

Kunkel's school suffers from a chickenpox outbreak with 32 cases. The school had approximately 110 students in 2015. On March 14, the Northern Kentucky Health Department instructed students without evidence of vaccination or immunity to chickenpox not to go to school "to further spread this disease to prevent."

Students were asked to stay home at school until three weeks after the last case of chickenpox.

More: The outbreak of chickenpox in Walton grows to 32 students, unvaccinated students did not say

But Kunkel disagrees with the vaccine filed Thursday at the Boone district court was, the religious vaccine, "because it is derived from broken fetal cells."

The lawsuit cites the Kentucky Act, which allows emergency vaccination during a particular epidemic and the implementation of "Regulations and Regulations" (Cabinet of Health and Family Services ) considers it efficacious to prevent the introduction or spread of such an infectious or infectious disease.

The lawsuit alleges that a health department official extorted religious animus against the Kunkel family.

The official wrote to the family by mail that the main purpose of the health ministry was to prevent the spread of disease in the area Public.

"Without a definite proof of immunity, a person could be a potential source of exposure, even if it is currently healthy. This is impossible to know how someone will respond to chickenpox, so we must act with a plethora of caution, "the official wrote in response to the lawsuit.


Learn more about chickenpox, a previously common ailment by the same virus that causes shingles, Steve Byerly

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The lawsuit relates to Kunkel's role as the school's basketball center. The health department ordered in late February that he could not play in games according to the lawsuit.

"The fact that I can not finish my senior year in basketball, like our last few games, is pretty devastating," said Kunkel WLWT. "I mean, you go to high school for four years and play basketball and you're looking forward to your senior year."

The Health Department issued a statement on its lawsuit:

"The Health Department's Assumption Academy has been conducted in accordance with the lawful indictment of this authority for the protection of public health," the statement said.

"Chickenpox … can be a very serious disease that is particularly dangerous for infants and pregnant women or anyone who is weakened immune system," continued the statement. The recent measures by the Northern Kentucky Health Department regarding the outbreak of chickenpox at the Academy of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart / Ascension were a direct response to a public health threat and a reasonable and necessary response to further spread this infectious disease to prevent. "

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Chickenpox is a vaccine-preventable disease with a blistering rash, itching, fatigue and fever that can last for 5-7 days.

The chickenpox virus spreads easily, especially when a person touches or inhales the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, according to the Federal Centers for the Control and Prevention of Diseases. It can also spread through tiny droplets that get into the air when someone who has chickenpox is breathing or talking.

Chickenpox is usually mild in children and makes them extremely uncomfortable with itching, says the CDC. The disease can also lead to complications and even death.

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Before a vaccine was available, around 4 million people in the US suffered from chickenpox every year. according to the CDC. More than 10,500 of these individuals were hospitalized and up to 150 died.


The CDC recommends healthy adults over the age of 50 to administer two doses of Shingrix, the last approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Salem Statesman Journal

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