Anti-Vaxxer Teen Contracts Preventable Illness After Refusing Vaccine


When I was a kid, there wasn’t a chickenpox vaccine. I distinctly remember staying home from school for a week and being told not to scratch the itchy red marks all over my body. I don’t remember much more than that. I returned to school afterwards, and everything went back to normal.

Nowadays, there is a chickenpox vaccine, and it’s one of multiple vaccines that students are required to get in order to attend school. The only problem is that anti-vaxxers who refuse to get vaccines are sometimes not allowed to attend school until they do.

Jerome Kunkel is an 18-year-old senior at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy. He never got the chickenpox vaccine. The chickenpox vaccine was originally created using cells from fetuses who were aborted back in the 1960s. Since Kunkel’s family is Catholic, they aren’t willing to get this particular vaccine since abortion violates their religious beliefs.

Christopher Wiest is the lawyer representing the family, and he said, “These are deeply held religious beliefs, they’re sincerely held beliefs. From their perspective, they always recognized they were running the risk of getting it, and they were OK with it.”

Earlier this year, when a chickenpox outbreak started at Kunkel’s high school, any unvaccinated students were banned from school until they were vaccinated or immune to the disease. Kunkel has been out of school since March 15th.

Recently, Kunkel got the chickenpox. Now that he is recovering, he is hoping to be back at school soon. He says that he has a lot of homework to catch up on, but otherwise, life is pretty normal.

Laura Brinson is a spokeswoman for the Northern Kentucky Health Department, and she said in a statement regarding Kunkel’s case,

Encouraging the spread of an acute infection disease in a community demonstrates a callous disregard for the health and safety of friends, family, neighbors and unsuspecting members of the general public.

Do you agree with Brinson that Kunkel and his family are “callous” and encouraging the spread of chickenpox, or do you think Kunkel should have been allowed to attend school since the vaccination went against his religious beliefs?