A northern Kentucky teen who was banned from school after refusing to get a chickenpox vaccination due to religious beliefs came down with the illness last week, his attorney said Wednesday.
Jerome Kunkel, a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy, first started showing chickenpox symptoms last week but has since been cleared by a doctor and returned to school, his attorney said.
"It was kind of ridiculous, because they issued the ban for 21 days, then it got extended longer because another kid came down with the chickenpox, so then it went on for longer. Towards the end of the ban, I actually got the chickenpox which should have extended the ban, but for some reason they didn't," said Kunkel.
Kunkel and his family have no regrets about their decision to not be vaccinated, his attorney said.
"These are deeply held religious beliefs; they're sincerely held beliefs," family attorney Christopher Wiest said. "From their perspective, they always recognized they were running the risk of getting it, and they were OK with it."
A chickenpox outbreak in March at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy prompted state health officials to order unvaccinated students to stay away from school.
Kunkel's family filed a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department after officials said any students without proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against the chickenpox would not be allowed to attend school until 21 days after the onset of a rash for the last ill student or staff member.
Kunkel, who is a basketball player, said he was told he couldn't play sports, but was allowed to attend school after the required waiting period.
A judge ended up siding with health officials in the case, but the Kunkels appealed the ruling.
Had state health officials not intervened, Wiest said, his client would have had the chickenpox earlier this year.
Chris Wiest says an appeal could come before a judge any day now.