WALTON, Ky. (CBS Local) — A high school student in Kentucky is suing his local health department after he was barred from playing basketball because he’s not vaccinated against chickenpox.

Jerome Kunkel, a senior at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton, refuses to get the chickenpox vaccine, citing his Christian faith. He and his father allege that he’s being discriminated against because of religious beliefs.

“For the health department to say we have to get vaccines in order to go to school, that’s infringing upon my First Amendment right,” Kunkel told CBS affiliate WKRC.

But health officials say they’re just trying to protect the public by containing an outbreak of the highly contagious disease that has affected 32 people at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department announced last week that all students at the school who don’t have “proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox will not be allowed to attend school until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member.”

This also affects the school’s sports and extracurricular activities, which have been canceled to avoid spreading the illness to other schools and places.

Kunkel and his father, Bill, say any vaccine that uses aborted fetal cells is immoral, illegal and sinful.

“Since 1973, Roe v. Wade to now, they’ve killed 60 million, butchered 60 million babies and they’re going to rub it in a Christian’s face by taking that vaccine and putting aborted baby cells in it and putting it in your body,” Bill Kunkel said.

The chickenpox vaccine is not derived from aborted fetuses, CNN reported.

“There are a number of vaccines made in descendent cells of aborted fetuses” dating back several decades, according to the National Catholic Bioethics Center, which derives its messages from the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Since that time the cell lines have grown independently. It is important to note that descendent cells are not the cells of the aborted child. They never, themselves, formed a part of the victim’s body,” according to the NCBC.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine,” the NCBC writes. “This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

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