Kentucky High School Student Loses Chickenpox Vaccine Lawsuit

Boone Circuit Court upheld the Northern Kentucky District Health Department’s statutory charge to protect the health and welfare of the community

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A high school student in northern Kentucky has lost his legal challenge refusing to obtain the chickenpox vaccine. 

The senior at Assumption Academy in Boone County sued the Northern Kentucky Independent District Board of Health after it banned students who could not prove chickenpox immunity from attending school and extracurricular activities during the outbreak. 

The Boone Circuit Court issued its decision on April 2, 2019, upholding the Northern Kentucky District Health Department’s statutory charge to protect the health and welfare of the community.   

The Court’s ruling 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. 

A chickenpox outbreak at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Assumption Academy prompted the health department to ban all students without proof of immunity from the school for 21 days. 

The Catholic Church ruled several years ago that Catholics could be immunized with vaccines developed in association with fetal cells. 

Since the initial reports in February 2019, 32 students attending this school have been confirmed with chickenpox (varicella), which is a vaccine-preventable disease. 

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Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The rash appears first on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body. 

There are 2 varicella vaccines that are licensed in the United States, Varivax® and ProQuad®.

Most pharmacies in Kentucky offer varicella prevention vaccines. 

Contact your healthcare provider or the Health Department with any questions about where to get the vaccine.

Jonathan Vorbeck; 859-344-5474; [email protected].