School vaccination from nurse
A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine against hepatitis at a free immunization clinic for students before the start of the school year, in Lynwood, California Aug. 27, 2013. A Kentucky student is suing the state health department after he was barred from school for refusing to receive a chickenpox vaccine amid an outbreak of the disease at his high school. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

A Kentucky student is suing the state health department after he was barred from school for refusing to receive a vaccine against the chickenpox during an outbreak at his high school, citing discrimination over his religious beliefs.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, a senior a Catholic high school in the city of Walton, is pursuing a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department over their policy that students who have not been vaccinated for chickenpox must be kept out of school for 21 days at the onset of a rash on the last student or teacher to be infected.

Bill Kunkel, Jerome Kunkel's father, said the health department's policy clashes with the family's religious beliefs "due to its being derived from aborted fetal cells," according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"I don't believe in that vaccine at all and they are trying to push it on us," Bill Kunkel told WLWT, an NBC affiliate in Cincinnati.

The Kunkel family was initially told by the school that in order to allow Jerome Kunkel on school property, the family would need to show either proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox.

A letter informing parents of the policy and to seek out vaccinations for their children was first circulated on Feb. 5.

The health department on Thursday announced that there have been 32 cases of chickenpox at Assumption Academy.

International Business Times requested the number of enrolled students at Assumption Academy but the school declined to answer. The Cincinnati Enquirer noted that the enrollment in 2015 was 110 students.

Since the outbreak, all extracurricular activities involving the public or events that involve interactions with other schools have reportedly been canceled.

Jerome Kunkel, who plays on the basketball team, was told he would be allowed to attend school after the required waiting period. He was simultaneously informed that he would be unable to play in the remaining games of the season.

"The fact that I can't finish my senior year in basketball ... our last couple of games, it's pretty devastating," he told WLWT.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department released a statement Friday in response to the Kunkel's lawsuit.

"The recent actions taken by the Northern Kentucky Health Department regarding the chickenpox outbreak at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy was in direct response to a public health threat and was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness," the statement read.