Herrera issues subpoena to anti-vaccine doctor

Subpoena seeks anonymized records from Dr. Kenneth Stoller in an investigation over whether he illegally gave medical exemptions, allowing parents to avoid vaccinating their children

SAN FRANCISCO (May 8, 2019) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced he has issued a subpoena for anonymized medical records from Dr. Kenneth Stoller as part of an investigation into whether the San Francisco doctor has been unlawfully providing medical exemptions that allowed parents to avoid vaccinating their children, which would put those children, their playmates, their schoolmates, and the general public at greater risk of contracting a communicable disease.

The City Attorney’s Office is investigating whether Stoller violated state nuisance laws by providing medical exemptions for patients who didn’t qualify for them. Under a state law that took effect in 2016, students attending any public or private school in California must be vaccinated unless they qualify for a valid medical exemption approved by a physician, such as having an allergy to vaccine components or because they’re undergoing chemotherapy. The law, known as SB 277, prevents parents from citing religious or personal beliefs as a basis for not immunizing their children. Since this change in the law, the number of medical exemptions issued has increased dramatically, despite legitimate qualifying conditions being rare. The law was approved in 2015 after a measles outbreak that originated at Disneyland sickened more than 120 people.

The subpoena issued today seeks anonymized medical records to further an investigation into whether Stoller created a nuisance — defined by law as “anything which is injurious to health” — by providing medical exemptions to parents of children who did not, in fact, have a legitimate medical condition to prevent them from getting vaccinated. No personal identifying information is sought under the subpoena, which specifically directs Stoller to redact all information that could be used to identify individual patients, including names, addresses, birth dates and medical record numbers.

“As a community, we have a responsibility to each other,” Herrera said. “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.”

Stoller, who also goes by Ken Stoller and K Paul Stoller, has 15 days from the date of service to respond to the subpoena. 

Stoller earned his degree from the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, according to state medical board records. He has been a vocal opponent of vaccines, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of their safety and effectiveness. Stoller, in an interview for an anti-vaccine website, said he bases his medical exemption decisions off two 30-minute visits and a 23andMe genetic test. However, 23andMe notes numerous caveats for its tests on its website, including that:

“The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment.”

Stoller is also an advocate of using hyperbaric oxygen therapy — breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber — even though the Food and Drug Administration has warned that hyperbaric oxygen therapy has not been clinically proven to cure or be effective in the treatment of cancer, autism, diabetes and other conditions some proponents claim it can be used to treat.

More information about the City Attorney’s Office can be found on our website: www.sfcityattorney.org