The Philadelphia Measles Epidemic of 1991

Lessons from the Past

Featuring: Paul Offit



Accepting the Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking, Paul Offit provides expert insight into the vaccine debate and shares his experience during the measles epidemic in Philadelphia. Offit, a groundbreaking virologist, was shocked to learn a disease fully preventable by vaccination was reemerging largely due to religious exemptions to vaccinations and many parents’ belief in faith healing. He explains how massive outreach efforts to religious communities and partnerships formed between health care centers and local politicians were able to halt a burgeoning epidemic.

Paul A. Offit, MD, is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is the coinventor of RotaTeq, a rotavirus vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for universal use in infants and credited with saving hundreds of lives each day. With dozens of appearances on media outlets ranging from CNN to The Colbert Report and op-eds published in papers such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Offit is one of the nation's most visible public advocates for vaccination. He is the author of five books, including Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine and Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.

This address was delivered at the Center for Inquiry on September 6th 2014.