Catholic student not vaccinated for chicken pox sues NKY Health Dept., claims he was told he couldn’t play basketball amid outbreak
UNION, KY (FOX19) - An 18-year-old who is not vaccinated for chicken pox has sued the Northern Kentucky Health Department and a slew of other defendants after he claims he was told he couldn’t play basketball for Assumption Academy.
Jerome Kunkel, of Union, Ky., is listed as the plaintiff. He is a senior at Assumption Academy, a private Catholic school in Walton, Ky., and has played basketball there since 2015.
According to the lawsuit, Kunkel is a practicing Catholic who rejects the use of any vaccine that is “derived from aborted fetal cells” as they are “immoral, illegal, and sinful.” As a result, he has never received the Varicella Vaccine, or the chicken pox vaccine.
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Earlier this week, the Northern Kentucky Health Department said there was an outbreak of 32 cases of the chicken pox at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy, stating all students without proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox would not be allowed to attend school until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last student or staff member.
The lawsuit claims that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is an elementary school across the street from Assumption, and that no cases have been confirmed at Assumption.
The lawsuit claims that in February, after a couple of cases had popped up at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Assumption’s principal was informed by the NKY Health Department that no one in the school could participate or attend extra curricular activities unless they were tested and it was determined they were immune to chicken pox.
After that, according to the lawsuit, Kunkel was told he could not attend or play in any basketball games or any other extra curricular activities involving other schools.
FOX19 has reached out to the Northern Kentucky Health Department for comment. Officials with the department said that they would not comment on pending litigation but issued this statement:
"We are aware of the lawsuit filed by Jerome Kunkel, and want to state that the actions taken by the Health Department with respect to Assumption Academy were done consistent with this agency’s statutory charge 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."
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