healthHealth and Medicine

Unvaccinated Student Sues After Being Banned From School During Outbreak


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist


The lawyer who filed the suit has taken to social media with “self-interested” and “inaccurate” posts about vaccinations, according to NKY. Rarin Lee/Shutterstock

Following a chickenpox outbreak at a high school in Kentucky, local health authorities told students to stay away from the school unless they can provide evidence of vaccination or proof of immunity against the contagious disease.

Jerome Kunkel, an 18-year-old senior at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton, has now filed a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department (NKY) over the decision. The New York Times reports the school told the unvaccinated student in February that he could not play in any basketball games as a result of the local health authority's stance.


According to the lawsuit, this violates his right to freedom of religion. Citing his Catholic faith, he argues that “any vaccine that is derived from aborted fetal cells is immoral, illegal and sinful.”

“I don't believe in that vaccine at all and they are trying to push it on us,” Kunkel said, according to CNN affiliate WLWT.

The NKY have stuck by their decision, stating it’s the best decision for public health, especially when it comes to pregnant women and individuals with a weakened immune system. They also noted that the lawyer who filed the suit has taken to social media with “self-interested” and “inaccurate” posts about chickenpox vaccinations.

“Unfortunately, some individuals, including the attorney who filed the lawsuit, have taken to social media to spread misinformation as part of their litigation strategy,” the NKY said in a statement.


So, what are the actual facts when it comes to vaccines and their use of human cells?

Most commonly used vaccinations use a small number of well-established human cell lines that were drawn from descendent cells of fetuses that were aborted decades ago. They are descendent cells, so the vaccines do not contain any of the cells from the original abortion. It’s also worth pointing out that the abortions were not undertaken with the intent of producing vaccines.

Unlike bacteria, viruses need a host to survive, so the descendent cells are the medium in which these vaccines are created. For example, the chickenpox vaccine is grown in cells originally derived from a fetus aborted in the early 1960s.

The Catholic Church has a long history of questioning the ethics of this practice due to its absolute opposition to abortion. However, their most recent stance is that there’s “no proper ground for refusing immunization against dangerous contagious disease... especially in light of the concern that we should all have for the health of our children, public health, and the common good.”


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