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Teen Refused Vaccine and Sued, Then Got 'Itchy'

Lawyer says Jerome Kunkel knew he was at risk of chickenpox
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2019 7:59 AM CDT
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy in Walton, Kentucky.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – No regrets. That's the mentality of Jerome Kunkel, the northern Kentucky teenager who objected to getting the chickenpox vaccine on religious grounds, only to come down with symptoms last week. "He's fine. He's a little itchy," attorney Christopher Wiest tells WXIX. The Washington Post reports the 18-year-old is now back at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy in Walton for the first time since mid-March. That's when the Northern Kentucky Health Department banned students who were unvaccinated or otherwise not immune from the disease from school in the midst of a chickenpox outbreak, sparking a lawsuit from Kunkel. "They always recognized they were running the risk of getting [chickenpox], and they were OK with it," says Wiest of Kunkel and other students who joined Kunkel's suit.

He adds "the ban was stupid" since Kunkel "could have contracted this in March" and quickly returned to school. The Northern Kentucky Health Department disagrees: "Encouraging the spread of an acute infection disease in a community demonstrates a callous disregard for the health and safety" of others," it said in a statement. The Catholic school is associated with a parish that belongs to the Society of Saint Pius X, which follows an ultraconservative type of Catholicism. CBS News reports 90% of academy students have religious exemptions to vaccines. Kunkel's family refused the vaccine because of the role the cells of an aborted fetus played in its development. Kunkel is appealing his case after a judge ruled against him last month. (Read more vaccines stories.)

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