According to the family’s lawyer Chris Wiest, 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel first showed symptoms of chickenpox last week. He has since recovered and returned to school on Wednesday for the first time since mid-March.
Wiest says that the family doesn’t regret their decision not to vaccinate Jerome, despite his recent bout of chickenpox. “From their perspective, they always recognized they were running the risk of getting it, and they were OK with it,” he explained to NBC, adding that “these are deeply held religious beliefs, they’re sincerely held beliefs.”
Jerome originally filed a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Department of Health when the agency banned unvaccinated students from attending classes and extracurricular activities after 32 cases of chickenpox were reported at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy.
Wiest called the ban “stupid” in the same interview with NBC, saying, “[Jerome] could have contracted this in March and been back to school by now.” He also told CNN, “The quickest way to get [kids] back to school is to get [chickenpox] naturally.”
The Department of Health responded to Wiest’s “deeply concerning words in a statement explaining, “This is clearly not appropriate medical advice, according to physicians and infectious disease experts… Encouraging the spread of an acute infectious disease in a community demonstrates a callous disregard for the health and safety of friends, family, neighbors, and unsuspecting members of the general public.”