As the debate about the importance of vaccines wears on, more and more stories emerge that highlight the importance of vaccines. Across the country, there are large outbreaks of diseases made preventable by vaccines. Two of the most recent have been measles and chickenpox. People who are anti-vaccine are holding strong in their stance, which is only creating more of a public health crisis. And now a teen who sued his school over an anti-vaxx ban has unsurprisingly contracted chickenpox. You can't make this kind of stuff up anymore.
Jermone Kunkel from Kentucky was banned from his school during a chickenpox outbreak because he isn't vaccinated against chickenpox. The 18-year-old subsequently sued the North Kentucky Health Department. And because of his refusal to get the vaccine, he's now developed chickenpox, which means the ban will continue until he is no longer contagious.
Kunkel and his family are Catholic, and refuse the chickenpox vaccine because the original vaccine, which was made in the 1960s, used the cells of aborted fetuses. Because of their conservative Catholicism, they are vehemently against abortion. However, the chickenpox vaccine hasn't been made using those cells in a long time. "As a Catholic we believe that abortion is wrong, morally wrong," Kunkel told ABC News.
For what it's worth, the Vatican's Academy for Life supports parents vaccinating their kids against chickenpox. This is purely a choice some Catholics are making, not an official proclamation.
Christopher Wiest, the attorney for the Kunkel family told NBC News, "From their perspective, they always recognized they were running the risk of getting it, and they were OK with it." Unfortunately for them, their decision for their family doesn't get to dictate those decisions. Despite the Kunkel's decision to sue, a judge upheld the ban, which worked out since Kunkel now has the chickenpox.
The ban was enacted in March 14th of this year. The Northwest Kentucky Health Dept. did so after 32 cases of chickenpox affected around 100 students at Kunkel's school. He has not been at school since, and won't be allowed to return until his chickenpox lesions have scabbed over. According to Doug Hogan, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says that at that point, Kunkel will be considered immune to the chickenpox.
Sadly, contracting the chickenpox hasn't changed Kunkel's thoughts about not being vaccinated.