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Judge Sides With Kentucky School On Banning Unvaccinated Student

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Unvaccinated students will have to remain at home and miss school activities amid the ongoing outbreaks of preventable diseases across the United States.

A judge in Kentucky has ruled against an 18-year-old on Tuesday, April 2, who sued the local health department after it issued a ban preventing children who have no immunity against chickenpox from attending their classes. The ban was issued as a response to the chickenpox outbreak in Kentucky.

The complainant, Jerome Kunkel, was devastated after the ruling, said his lawyer Christopher Wiest. They will review their options.

Students Barred From Attending School In Kentucky

Kunkel is a high school student at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Assumption Academy in Boone County. According to the Northern Kentucky Health Department, as of March 14, a total of 32 cases of chickenpox have been reported in the area.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease spread from one person to another through close contact. A person who has it will experience fever, tiredness, headache, and loss of appetite. However, the most obvious symptom of chickenpox is an itchy rash that turns into blisters filled with fluids and then scabs.

Chickenpox can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, sepsis, and death but it can be prevented by a vaccine.

However, Kunkel and 30 other students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Assumption Academy have been barred from attending classes and participating in school activities since March. According to Wiest, the ban discriminates against religious beliefs.

Kunkel explained that he is not opposed to all vaccination. He only avoids those that use aborted fetal cells during manufacturing, like the chickenpox vaccine.

A Threat To Public Health

A lawyer for the health departments maintains position to ban unvaccinated students from attending school. They also countered the claim that the decision was religious discrimination.

"Instead, it presents this question: Do unvaccinated students at Assumption have the right to attend school, play basketball and attend other extracurricular activities in the face of an outbreak of a very serious and infectious disease at the school?" stated Jeff Mando.

The vaccination rate in Kentucky for chickenpox is about 90 percent. However, in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School and Assumption Academy, only 18 percent have been vaccinated to protect them against the childhood illness.

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