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Unvaccinated Teen Is Suing After He Learns He’s Not Allowed to Play Sports Because of Chickenpox Outbreak

Jerome Kunkel
Screenshot/WLWT

Jerome Kunkel is about to miss the last few games of his high school basketball career because he hasn’t been vaccinated for chickenpox.

As People reports, Jerome is in his senior year at Assumption Academy, a Catholic school in Walton, Kentucky. The school recently suffered a chickenpox outbreak, which prompted the North Kentucky Health Department to issue a strict rule in an attempt to control its spread.

According to Fox 19, after 32 cases of chickenpox were reported, the health department ruled that students who hadn’t been vaccinated and didn’t have proof of immunity could not attend school or extracurricular activities for 21 days after the last rash from a student or staff member.

For Jerome, a center on the basketball team, that meant that he couldn’t practice or attend any of the remaining basketball games this year. He told WLWT:

“The fact that I can’t finish my senior year in basketball, like, our last couple of games, it’s pretty devastating. I mean, you go through four years of high school playing basketball you look forward to your senior year.”

As Jerome’s father, Bill, explained, they have a religious objection to the chickenpox vaccine. Bill, who came from the era of chickenpox parties and considers it a minor childhood disease, added:

“I don’t believe in that vaccine at all and they are trying to push it on us. The chickenpox vaccine is derived from aborted fetuses. And, of course, as Christians, we’re against abortion.”

The Kunkel family did fill out the school’s religious exemption forms for the mandatory vaccine program. They also contacted the health department about the ban. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, a health department official responded:

“Without definitive evidence of immunity, a person could be a source of potential exposure, even if they are currently healthy. It’s impossible to know how anyone will react to chickenpox, therefore we must act with an abundance of caution.”

Jerome has filed a lawsuit against the health department, claiming that he is being discriminated against based on his religion. He told WKRC:

“For the health department to say we have to get vaccines in order to go to school, that’s infringing upon my First Amendment right.”

In a statement to Fox 19, the health department said it was aware of the suit and that its actions were intended “to protect the public health”:

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, can be a very serious illness that is especially dangerous for infants and pregnant women or anyone who has a weakened immune system. 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 infectious illness.

A court hearing is scheduled for April 1.

Editor’s Note: As the US National Library of Medicine reports, not vaccinating yourself or your children has become a serious threat to public health. There is currently no research that supports the claims made by those who are anti-vaccination, including claims made by the subject in this article.

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    • We did have it as kids. However maybe this boy will be “lucky” like my husband, and contract chicken pox when he’s thirty. At that age, trust me, it was serious.

      • So you’re not glad there’s a vaccine? I am. I have 4 children and I’m so happy that on top of everything I had to deal with, I didn’t have CHICKENPOX OUTBREAKS to boot.

    • Yes we did and now we have a greater chance for shingles as we age. Chickenpox itself as you age is not a simple disease either

    • Don’t think it is serious? Why don’t you ask the girl I went to school with in 1st grade how serious it can be. She is completely deaf due to chicken pox getting in her ears. That was in the early 80’s

    • And if you were vaccinated, then you had a WAY easier case of chickenpox!

      That’s what a lot of you seem to be misunderstanding. I WAS vaccinated and I had them EVERYWHERE! I had them on top and UNDER my eyelids! The only place I didnt have them was in my mouth! I was SO miserable for 2 WEEKS that I still vividly remember them after 36 years! Do you know what it’s like to have chickenpox actually inside your vagina? Cause I do, and you cant put calamine lotion on them. You have to use monistat for yeast infections.

      The vaccine helps to reduce the severity of the chickenpox or keeps you from getting them. That’s why we vaccinate!

    • Apparently you have never seen a child suffer and die from the chickenpox! It’s NOT just an easy peasy childhood illness!

  1. Vaccines are drugs; all drugs have side effects. Vaccine side effects are rare, however. I believe that, for the most part, the benefits of vaccines vastly outweigh the risk.

  2. Is he suing his parents?

    Chicken pox can be dangerous to children with certain medical issues. Should he be allowed to cause serious problems for children like that?

  3. Go get vaccinated dumbass, or adhere to the incubation protocols. Foolish leftist parents and now they suffer the consequences

    • Hey dumbass! Pretty much think they are conservatives since they believe the vaccine comes from aborted fetuses…

  4. I was on the fence about vaccines until I researched what problems occur when an unvaccinated person is exposed and then exposes everyone else around them. Why do you think we are suddenly having a rise in these diseases to large groups all of a sudden. Some fool made an assumption between autism and vaccination which created a whole group who refuse to vaccinate. But all it takes is one infected person to infect a whole lot of people. This whiner complaining is not weighing the effects on the whole school but on his single life. If he had been vaccinated, then he would have not had to stay away during the incubation period, he would have been safe to stay in school as he would have been immune because of the vaccination. He sounds like a typical leftist liberal–always right and never wrong–and blames everyone else for his problems.
    Chickenpox is not just a simple mild childhood disease, it can kill people.

  5. As a child, (not an infant or teenager), chicken pox is usually relatively benign, albeit itchy and uncomfortable. as that child gets older, say 17 yrs of age, chicken pox may become somewhat less benign. in young men, it can cause sterility. In fact, all childhood diseases can cause sterility in men. So the older a unvaccinated man gets, the more likely he is to become sterile if he contracts chicken pox, measles or mumps. And yes, chicken pox can kill people. So no, it’s not a First Amendment issue, it is not a religious discrimination issue. It is s PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE.

    • I’m sorry but second hand smoke is a huge PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUE. So if you want to force people into vaccination than you should also ban cigarettes and pesticides that are causing cancer. I PROMISE you that the number of people dying from cancer caused by these pollutants far outweighs the number of people getting chickenpox and possibly having a serious outcome.

      • Perhaps the difference in the number of smoker who die from cancer and the number of people getting chickenpox is that MOST PEOPLE GET VACCINATED AS CHILDREN!

  6. My son almost died from chicken pox. He became sepsis and was in intensive care. He was 7 and it was before the vaccination. I stayed with him and he refused to go to sleep because he did not want to die. After 48 hours the Doctor told us he was out of the woods. That’s when we realized how serious chicken pox could be.

  7. It is true that the chicken pox vaccine was derived from aborted fetus tissue. Two aborted fetuses, to be exact, in the 1960’s with no further use of aborted fetal tissue. The Catholic Church is fine with the the chicken pox vaccine. Those lives were lost 50 years ago and it is sad. But those lives continue to better society and save lives. As a Christian, that is a worthy legacy.

    • The fetal tissue used in the original vaccine was most likely from a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage. Abortion as a elective procedure was not legal until 1973. Abortion is the medical term for a naturally occurring miscarriage.

      I personally had chickenpox, measles, mumps & whooping cough. My own children had chickenpox. Thankfully none of us suffered serious side effects. But as a pediatric nurse for over 30 years I am well aware there CAN BE serious complications from these diseases such as hearing loss, blindness, mental retardation, sterization to name a few – & yes, even death. No one has mentioned polio! Remember the polio epidemic? Your child could be the one to develop the serious complications. Why gamble with their health & future!
      Immunize!!!

  8. My son never had the chicken pox. But it wasn’t that I did not expose him. It’s a childhood thing that almost all kids get and if they don’t take them as kids it could interfere with the future in regards to having children. The US Coast Guard would not let my son join with out getting the vaccination. Furthermore his Dr also told us that he needed the vaccination because if he takes them as an adult it could effect his ability to have children. So stop your whining and get the shot and be done with it.
    p your whining and get the shot and be done with it.

  9. I noticed all the ones claiming all this nonsense that has been debunked by sound medical science about vaccines didn’t have the balls to post their names. Why would ANY loving parent CHOOSE to let their child suffer, and possibly have permanent lasting effects or die, from a preventable disease?? Do your research into actual sound science not produced by the Andrew Wakefield’s of the world and you will see the most common serious side effects from vaccines are caused by a then unknown food allergy to the eggs and/or yeast used in preserving vaccines. PROTECT YOUR KIDS. Get them their shots.

    • Don’t you love that they never say how many of the “outbreak” victims were actually vaccinated. Btw “Kate” you didn’t leave your full name either. Hypocrite much?

  10. You are entitled to an education, however, every exemption issued for no vaccinations carries with it (from most health departments) states that in the case of an outbreak you could be barred from attending school. You have rights but the majority of the other students have rights to. That is why you live in a democratic society. It is a sad fact that you yourself may be carrying the germs that have infected other people. My sympathies that you don’t get to play your last few games of basketball but peoples lives could be at stake, I am sure the loss of a few games would be something you could live with. The fact that you could be possible for causing true harm to a person for the rest of their life not so much. Just think about more than yourself for a change. It’s called growing up, it’s not all fun and games.

  11. He is wrong about what his religion teaches. Catholicism does not forbid vaccinations and has never forbidden vaccinations. Vaccinations are considered lawful because it “protects our children, public health, and the common good.” Moreover, vaccines do not contain aborted fetuses. Some vaccines have cell lines that are decedent from aborted fetuses over 40 years ago however, these cell lines do not contain any of the aborted fetuses. They have been duplicated and grown independently over and over in the last 40 years and do not have any of the original material. Furthermore, even the descendant lines do not remain in the vaccine after the final vaccine has been purified. I am Catholic and with all due respect to him, he should probably spend a little bit more time talking to his priest and just a little less time with his basketball coach.

  12. His right to the first amendment is void in this situation by not being vaccinated he causing harm to others which entails you have all the natural rights unless those rights step on the pursuit of someone elses happiness by not being vaccinated he could infect hundreds of kids and in serious cases it can cause death.

  13. Vaccines do have aborted fetus cells anonymous. Learn the truth. You are truly ignorant. The godfather of vaccines Stanley plotkin admitted that to be true in his 9 hour deposition. Watch it on you tube you troll. Chicken pox is a mild disease and by using a vaccine they created shingles which is much more deadly and costs a huge amount more to treat. Thank the pharmaceutical industry for this travesty but they don’t care it’s all about the money.

    • Obviously you have never have chicken pox. Mild is the last thing they are. Get your children vaccinated.

  14. Chicken Pox can be deadly in the elderly, newborns, toddlers, n c’mon people vaccinate you’re kids. If you’re not gonna then you’ve got to follow the rules set forth to keep others from getting sick. It’s only fair I’m a Christian too but you best believe my child got everything that her dr said she had to have for school.

  15. The up or down voting for this article makes no sense. Do I vote up if I liked the article, agreed with the high school student or agreed with the medical response. Someone help me out here.

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