HealthSan Francisco

San Francisco doctor investigated in vaccination exemption scheme


A San Francisco doctor accused of unlawfully providing medical exemptions for parents so that they can avoid vaccinating their children is being investigated by prosecutors, City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Wednesday.

Herrera’s office has issued a subpoena for medical records from Dr. Kenneth Stoller to see whether he violated state nuisance laws by providing the medical exemptions for patients who may not have qualified for them.

California state law mandates that all students attending public or private schools must be vaccinated unless they qualify for a valid medical exemption like an allergy or chemotherapy treatment.

The law went into effect in 2016 and prevents parents from citing religious or personal beliefs as a reason to not immunize their kids. Since 2015, Herrera’s office said the number of medical exemptions issued has soared.

By providing possibly false exemptions, Herrera’s office said that Stoller may have put the children, their playmates and classmates, as well as the general public, at risk for contracting a communicable disease.

Herrera said in a statement:

“As a community, we have a responsibility to each other. … There are children who have serious medical conditions that prevent them from getting vaccinated. The scary thing is those are the kids most at risk when somebody engages in medical exemption deception. If someone uses a medical exemption they don’t qualify for and introduces unvaccinated children into that environment, the kids who legitimately can’t get a vaccine — and ultimately the general public — are the ones in real danger.”

According to Herrera’s office, Stoller, a graduate of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, has been a vocal opponent of vaccines in the past and once said in an interview for an anti-vaccine website that he bases medical exemption decisions on two 30-minutes visits and a 23andMe genetic test.

The subpoena order directs Stoller to redact all information that could be used to identify individual patients, including names, addresses, birth dates and medical record numbers. He has until May 23 to respond to the subpoena, Herrera’s office said.

Stoller’s attorney Richard Jaffe was not immediately available for comment.

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