What Is the Invisible Threat?

Paul A. Offit, MD


April 18, 2014

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[Editor's Note: Watch the film trailer below. In addition, the full-length film is available for educational purposes at this time. A healthcare professional, hospital, university, or other professional group may contact Lisa Posard, Producer, at, for a copy of the film and a limited screening license. (Invisible Threat was funded by an unrestricted grant from local Rotary organizations in San Diego, California. No one but the filmmakers saw the film until it was completed, including the donors and participating physicians. Medical and military technical advisors were used as fact-checkers.) ]

Hi. I'm Paul Offit. I am speaking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center here at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania.

Over the past few years, an increasing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children -- for religious reasons, for philosophical reasons, and for various other reasons. More and more children are now being potentially exposed to these vaccine-preventable diseases, and the consequences have been what one would have predicted. Last year, we had 189 cases of measles in this country; as of March 22, 2014, we have had about 80 cases, and thus we could have twice the number of cases this year as last year. In addition, we are seeing more cases of pertussis, more cases of mumps, and more cases of bacterial meningitis. This has been a constant discussion, a discussion in the media, and in many different forms of the media.

Into the fray has stepped an interesting group of high school students from Carlsbad, California, who have made a movie called Invisible Threat [watch the Invisible Threat trailer below]. They wrote it, filmed it, edited it, and put it together. It has now had premieres in Houston, Texas, and on May 1 it premieres in Washington, DC. It is an excellent film.

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Invisible Threat Trailer

The film's student-producers came to this subject with no preconceived notions of what they would find. They interviewed experts, parents, and sometimes their own siblings, trying to get to the core of what the issue is really about and how it can reasonably be resolved.

They came to the only conclusion that one can come to when you know the science behind this issue: that the choice not to have one's child vaccinated is a choice to put one's child at unnecessary risk. What is interesting about this, and what distinguishes it from the other efforts to get at the same topic, is that it has a kind of "Emperor's New Clothes" quality to it, which makes it really fresh and different.

I recommend this film. I suspect that very soon it will be available on the Internet for all to watch, but keep your eye out for Invisible Threat. Thank you very much.


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