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Kentucky Family Sues Local Health Department over school bans against unvaccinated children

An electron microscope image of the poxvirus, varicella-zoster
Image: Dr Erskine Palmer (CDC via AP)

A Kentucky teenager and his family sue their local health department over their attempt to protect the public from the chicken pox virus.

The lawsuit claims that health professionals violated the boy's first right of amendment, Jerome Kunkel, by banning him and other unvaccinated students from participating in school or extracurricular activities at the Assumption Academy, the private Catholic school where an outbreak of highly contagious pox has already infected more. than 30 students. Supporting the family's trial is that health officials discriminate against their Catholic faith, even though the Catholic Church itself has no problems with vaccination.

According to the Northern Kentucky Health Department, the water drop outbreak began only in February. In order to limit the spread of the viral infection, the Ministry of Health ordered that unvaccinated children be prevented from participating in the secondary school. The 18-year-old high school Kunkel, who has not pulled up chickenpox, had to miss his basketball team playoff as a result (the team finally disappeared). Last Thursday, with the outbreak growing to 32 students, the health department banned unvaccinated students from attending school altogether. The prohibition is set to run until 21 days after the last reported symptoms of rash in an infected student or faculty member.

On the same day, the family left their trial in the Boone County Circuit Court and changed it further on Thursday. In addition to claiming that health officials violated Jerome Kunkel's first change rights, the Washington Post reported that the trial also claims that they were circumventing a necessary process to implement the prohibitions and that they specifically opposed the Kunkel family in private meetings because of their religious beliefs.

Health departments in other states have routinely conducted similar bans during the recent outbreaks of vaccine-protective disease. In New York this winter, health care professionals prevented unvaccinated people from attending school and even closing a wedding due to an abuse of measles. Parents in Rockland County, where the outbreak is centered, also sued to get the school ban lifted, but had denied their request in court last week. Legal issues aside, the religious aspect of Kunkel's claims is questionable.

The cell lines used as the base of the kitten vaccine decades ago were actually derived from two fetuses that had been discontinued. And the Catholic Church has long-standing abortion, including the use of aborted fetal cells in stem cell research. But the Church has also given members its moral blessing to use chickenpox vaccines and other vaccines that are once derived from fetal cells.

"The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, is considering the legitimate concern about the origin of the vaccine," said the National Catholic Bioethics Center in a FAQ on vaccines. "This is especially important for parents who have a moral obligation to protect the lives and health of their children."

Billy Kunkel, Jerome's father, told the Washington Post that he didn't care about the Church's position, stating that his opposition to abortion was a morally absolute.

Last week, the Northern Kentucky Health Department rejected the public accusations of the Kunkel family and others on social media, claiming that the health department excelled them and discriminated against their religious beliefs. It also released the letters that were sent to the parents at the Assumption Academy in February and March, warning the parents of the dangers of chickenpox, explaining the medical conditions for the bans and not just a reference to religion.

"Unfortunately, some individuals, including a lawyer who has objected to the trial, have taken to social media to disseminate erroneous data as part of their processes," said the health department in a statement released last week. media is used as a weapon for erroneous data to improve trial days and to undermine our mission to protect public health. "Although chickenpox usually causes a mild, if highly contagious, rash and fever lasting one week, it can rarely cause serious problems such as pneumonia, encephalitis and even fatal sepsis, these more serious complications are more likely among the very young and immunocompromised, surviving a chickenpox infection naturally also increases the risk of ever-developing adult shingles, a reactivation of the chicken pox which may cause unwanted , sometimes lifelong nerve problems.

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