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NKY Health Dept. Responds to Favorable Ruling in Chickenpox Case

A Boone County judge issued a ruling Tuesday favorable to the Northern Kentucky Health Department's decision to ban unvaccinated or non-immune students from a Walton school after a chickenpox outbreak.

On March 14, it was announced that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy had nearly three dozen cases of chickenpox among its student population.

As a result of the outbreak, the health department mandated that all students without proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox would not be allowed to attend school or participate in extracurricular activities until twenty-one days after the onset of the rash for that last ill student or staff member.

One 18-year old student, Jerome Kunkel, sued the health department over the decision, noting his religious objection to the vaccination. According to reports, he also failed an immunity test for chickenpox.

Circuit Judge James Schrand ruled in the health department's favor on Tuesday.

Northern Kentucky District Director of Health Dr. Lynne Saddler released this statement afterwards:

Today the Boone Circuit Court issued a decision upholding the Northern Kentucky District Health Department’s statutory charge to protect the health and welfare of the community.  We are pleased with the Court’s careful and thorough review of the evidence and legal issues posed in this case.  The Court’s ruling, which follows on the heels of the Northern Kentucky Health Department receiving national recognition through re-accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board, underscores the critical need for Public Health Departments to preserve the safety of the entire community, and in particular the safety of those members of our community who are most susceptible to the dire consequences when a serious, infectious disease such as varicella, is left unabated and uncontrolled.   

Kunkel has the right to appeal the decision.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher