The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has issued a subpoena to demanding records related to medical exemptions for student vaccination requirements written by Dr. Kenneth Stoller, a vocal opponent of mandatory vaccines, according to a press release from the office.
In 2015, California passed a bill, SB 277, outlawing so-called personal belief exemptions for student vaccination requirements. Any licensed physician is still allowed to write exemptions for legitimate medical concerns.
Such medical exemptions have increased significantly since SB 277. Experts, including State Senator Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who wrote the 2015 law, believe some doctors are selling exemptions, whether kids need them or not.
“Physicians do have to specify the condition, but it’s up to their discretion,” said Dorit Reiss, professor of law at UC Hastings, who studies vaccine policy. “The schools cannot reject a medical exemption.”
“You have to have a legitimate medical condition to exempt a child from getting vaccinated,” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Whenever we believe someone might be violating the law and putting the broader community at risk, we take action.” Herrera declined to say what law Stoller might have violated.
Stoller was not immediately available for comment.
Shortly after the personal belief exemption ban, Facebook group Stop Mandatory Vaccination posted that Stoller would evaluate children for medical exemptions. “He fought against SB277. He is in the San Francisco Bay area and he can take initial Skype appointments,” the post said.
Several Google reviews for Stoller mention vaccines, including one thanking him for writing an exemption for “valid health reasons” after the family was unable to get a philosophical exemption.
Some children have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccines, including being allergic to vaccine ingredients or immunocompromised due to chemotherapy, according to the press release. Those children rely on the protection of so-called “herd immunity,” when vaccine rates are high enough that infectious diseases can’t make in-roads to the community.
Pan has written a followup bill, SB 276, which would give final say over individual exemptions to the California Department of Public Health. In April, Dr. Stoller signed a joint letter opposing the law.
The letter claims that vaccines are linked to autoimmune, psychiatric and developmental disorders. The FDA, CDC, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and other major medical bodies around the world have all determined there is overwhelming evidence of the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
“I think Dr. Stoller is a true believer,” said Reiss, who has studied anti-vaccine efforts on the internet, including Stoller’s web presence. “That doesn’t mean he’s not profiting off this.”
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
SF City Attorney Subpoenas Anti-Vaccine Doctor Over Phony Student Exemptions