A Northern Kentucky high school senior is suing the local health department for banning him from school and from playing basketball during a chickenpox outbreak.

Not Vaccinated Because Of Religious Reason

18-year-old Jerome Kunkel has not received vaccination because of his "Christian faith," prompting the health department to refuse him to attend school or play activities.

The department said students who have not been vaccinated have to stay out of school three weeks after the onset of a chicken rash on the last sick teacher or student. It announced the policy on Feb. 21 in a letter to parents amid an outbreak of chickenpox at school.

The health department warned parents of the outbreak on Feb.5 and urged them to have their children vaccinated. By March 14, the school already had 32 confirmed cases of chickenpox.

Northern Kentucky issued a statement in response to the lawsuit. It said that its response to the chicken outbreak was an effort to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

"The recent actions taken by the Northern Kentucky Health Department regarding the chickenpox outbreak at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy was in direct response to a public health threat and was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness," the health department said.


Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is highly contagious to people who have not had the disease particularly those who did not receive the vaccination. It can be contracted through physical contact.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine vaccination to prevent infection and possible infection. Symptoms of the condition include itchy blister rash with small, fluid-filled blisters that appear 10 to 20 days after exposure to the varicella-zoster virus.

Most people recover from the illness without lasting effects but it can have devastating impacts on pregnant women, babies and those with weakened immune systems.

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