United States teen who sued health department over chickenpox vaccine now has chickenpox

Maricruz Casares
May 12, 2019

"Although we have been working with the school to contain the illnesses since February, the health department has recently seen a concerning increase in the number of infected students at the school which has prompted us to take further control measures at the school and to make the public aware that chickenpox may be in the community", Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, said in March.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, developed chickenpox symptoms last week and may recover by next week, the lawyer told NBC News.

The Kentucky teenager who filed a lawsuit after he was banned from school for refusing to be vaccinated against chickenpox now has the infectious disease.

Kunkel, who plays basketball for the school, then sued the Northern Kentucky Health Department, claiming the vaccine is against his religious beliefs.

Kunkel was denied being able to return to activities by the judge last month.

"The ban was stupid", Wiest said.

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Wiest said Tuesday about half his clients have contracted chickenpox since filing the case.

Wiest has said he told students' parents to encourage their children to try and contract the virus.

Weist said that if federal health officials didn't intervene, Kunkel would have contracted the disease much earlier.

But the health department said in a news release Wednesday that Wiest's statement was "alarming and disappointing". Now, that same anti-vaxx student has been diagnosed with the infectious disease. "Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is an acute infectious disease".

"While the tactic Wiest suggests may provide an individual with future immunity from chickenpox, this infected person can easily spread the virus to other, unsuspecting people, including those particularly vulnerable to this potentially life-threatening infection". Schrand also pointed out that one of Kunkel's parents signed a state form that allows rejection of immunization on religious grounds provided the child may not be allowed in school for weeks once an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease occurs. This story was reported from Los Angeles.

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