Strange Results After Pediatrician's Suicide Sparks Vaccine Probe

Some former patients lack immunity they thought they would have; others don't
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 9, 2020 6:08 PM CDT
Vaccine Probe After Pediatrician's Suicide Yields Odd Results
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Yana Tatevosian)

An Illinois sheriff's office investigating the vaccination practices of a deceased Chicago-area pediatrician announced Monday that tests have revealed several of the doctor's former patients lack immunity to diseases against which they or their parents believed they had been vaccinated, the AP reports. The Cook County Sheriff's office news release comes just weeks after the office announced an investigation into the medical records of Dr. Van Koinis, an Evergreen Park pediatrician who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last September. Authorities said Koinis left a suicide note that suggested he had been "averse" to vaccinations. At the time, Sheriff Tom Dart told reporters that Koinis was widely known as a doctor who would provide treatment for people opposed to vaccinations. In Monday's release, Dart's office said two former patients who are now adults and seven parents whose children were treated by Koinis learned they lack immunity to diseases they believed they had received vaccinations against.

Investigators are trying to determine if Koinis forged records so parents who didn't want their children to be vaccinated could get them into schools that require shots. But that would not explain why the results of testing varied even between siblings. “One child who was treated by Koinis is vaccinated while a sibling is under-vaccinated or shows no evidence of vaccination,” the release said. Adding to the mystery is that some parents told investigators they witnessed the doctor administering the shots. “It's unclear why the results of the tests are what they are, why some of them are immune to some (diseases) and not to others and some aren't immune at all,” said department spokeswoman Sophia Ansari. The doctor acknowledged in his suicide note that his records after 2010 were not reliable, and he indicated he "regretted his conduct with immunizations" and also regretted the "disarray" of his records, authorities have said. Authorities are still working to untangle the case and former patients of Koinis are urged to contact their doctors.

(Read more vaccine stories.)

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