US teen sues school over chickenpox vaccine, gets chickenpox

A teenager who tried to sue his school for banning him when he refused a chickenpox vaccine has come down with the contagious virus.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, is a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy in Kentucky. In March, an outbreak saw 32 pupils come down with chickenpox.

In response, the school barred all unimmunised students from attending class or any extracurricular activities in an attempt to prevent them becoming sick. They were ordered to stay home until three weeks after the last chickenpox victim started showing symptoms.

While most US children are vaccinated against chickenpox at a young age, some very conservative Catholics oppose the vaccine because it was originally developed from tissue taken from two aborted foetuses in the 1960s.

Kunkel, a devout Catholic, called the vaccine "immoral, illegal and sinful", and took legal action against the school for keeping him away from class and his basketball team.

He lost the lawsuit, with a Kentucky judge ruling his right to play sports did not supersede the need to preserve the safety of the community.

In an ironic twist, Kunkel has since contracted the chickenpox virus, with his lawyer telling NBC he started showing symptoms last week.

Because it's extremely rare for someone to get chickenpox twice, Kunkel is now effectively immune to it and will be allowed to return to school once his symptoms have subsided.

Earlier in the year, the Governor of Kentucky admitted he deliberately exposed all nine of his children to the virus rather than get them vaccinated.

"We found a neighbour that had it, and I went and made sure every one of them got it," Matt Bevin told local radio station WKCT. "They were miserable for a few days and they all turned out fine."

However he has also urged parents to vaccinate their own children to prevent the outbreak getting worse.


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