An unvaccinated student in Kentucky who was barred from playing basketball is now suing the regional health department.
Jerome Kunkel, a senior at a Catholic high school in Walton, Ky., is claiming the Northern Kentucky Health Department violated his First Amendment rights by barring him from playing basketball because he refused vaccination against chickenpox.
The vaccination would go against Kunkel’s religious beliefs because the chickenpox vaccine contains “aborted fetal cells.”
The lawsuit comes after an outbreak of 32 cases of chickenpox at Assumption Academy in Walton, Ky., prompted warnings from officials. Students who were not vaccinated or already immune could not attend school "until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member."
Kunkel has since been barred from attending school as well.
"I'm pretty devastated,” Kunkel, who was captain of the basketball team, told the New York Times. After playing for all four years of high school, "for it come crashing down at the end, it's not very fun," he said.
Kunkel was not able to play in the last three games of the season.
Kunkel’s lawyer contends that Kentucky law allows students to receive vaccination exemptions on religious grounds if they provide a sworn statement, which Kunkel did in early 2018.