WALTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky judge has ruled against a student who sued after he wasn’t allowed to play basketball because he wasn’t vaccinated for chickenpox.
In the lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department, 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel claimed the vaccine is against his religious beliefs.
WXIX-TV in Cincinnati reports Boone County Circuit Judge James R. Schrand on Tuesday denied Kunkel’s request to return to school activities.
“Today the Boone Circuit Court issued a decision upholding the Northern Kentucky District Health Department’s statutory charge to protect the health and welfare of the community,” the health department said in a statement.
The statement continued:
We are pleased with the Court’s careful and thorough review of the evidence and legal issues posed in this case. The Court’s ruling, which follows on the heels of the Northern Kentucky Health Department receiving national recognition through re-accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board, underscores the critical need for Public Health Departments to preserve the safety of the entire community, and in particular the safety of those members of our community who are most susceptible to the dire consequences when a serious, infectious disease such as varicella, is left unabated and uncontrolled.
Kunkel’s lawyer contended he faced discrimination because of his religious beliefs. Attorney Chris Wiest said Tuesday that Kunkel is disappointed in the ruling and will review his options.
An outbreak of 32 chickenpox cases at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Assumption Academy prompted the ban. Kunkel has been out of school since March 15.