The Four-Part PBS Series Exploring the Hidden Public Health Infrastructure in America That Saves Lives Every Day

This award-winning series reveals how the field of public health has saved countless lives, protecting people from the constant threat of disease, and increasing lifespans.

Using vivid character portraits, interviews, and archival elements, The Invisible Shield depicts public health as a progressive and revolutionary movement, whose successes have come from a diverse, cross-disciplinary coalition of dedicated public servants (like you) working together to improve the conditions of society.

The series looks to history to show how public health practices have emerged over centuries as humanity confronted problems arising from urbanization, industrialization, and globalization.

It examines public health’s major achievements — including the more than 30-year increase in life expectancy between 1900 and 2000 and the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s.

Public health challenges are also explored, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlights how misunderstood, undervalued, and underfunded public health is.

Episode 1: The Old Playbook  Public health has transformed human life, silently protecting us from disease and fatalities. Interventions large and small — from quarantines to crosswalks, vaccines to modern sanitation — have allowed American society to flourish and keep illness, injury, and death at bay.

Episode 2: Follow The Data Data has been an essential public health tool since at least the 17th century, when cities began regularly recording mortality statistics. Data science has guided public health policy since the earliest practices of data collection in the 1800s to identify the spread of disease.

Episode 3: Vaccination & Inequity From the early days of vaccination in the late 1700s through the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine, scientists have achieved extraordinary feats to combat, contain, and eradicate disease — but solutions only work if people trust the science.

Episode 4: The New Playbook Inequality, structural racism, inadequate health care access, insufficient job protections, and a badly neglected public health system all contributed to catastrophic systemic failures.

All four episodes of The Invisible Shield are now streaming on and the PBS App including Arizona PBS Passport – Arizona PBS

Note: Arizona PBS Passport is one of the benefits you receive when you support Arizona PBS by giving $5/month or $60/year. With Passport, you can stream your favorite PBS programs – full seasons of Masterpiece, episodes of Nova, Arizona Horizon, Nature, American Experience, Great Performances, Independent Lens and more.