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Stemming the measles surge – an iHV Podcast with Professor Helen Bedford

2nd February 2024

We are delighted to broadcast our latest iHV Podcast – and first podcast for 2024. This episode takes a deep dive into the world of childhood vaccinations, discussing the current measles surge and falling rates of MMR vaccine uptake. What’s the scale of the problem? How serious is it? And most importantly what can we do about it? – both as a whole system, and also specifically for us as health visitors. How can we focus our efforts to make the biggest difference?

iHV podcasts focus on matters that will be of interest to health visitors, and those working in public health for babies, children and families. In each of our podcasts, we focus on an important public health topic, with brilliant guests who are experts in their field, asking: what needs to change, why, and how to get there.

In this episode, our CEO Alison Morton, is joined by Helen Bedford. Helen is a Professor of Children’s Health at the UCL Institute of Child Health. Helen is also a trustee at the iHV and definitely the “go to” person for anything related to childhood vaccinations. Her very distinguished research career has focused on child public health issues and in particular childhood vaccination. This includes the determinants of vaccine uptake, including vaccine hesitancy – or, as Helen prefers to describe this as, “people who have concerns about vaccines”.

Helen’s research has included parents, health professionals and young people’s attitudes and knowledge towards established and new potential vaccines. This research has informed national and local policy and practice, she advises a wide range of researchers, organisations and groups on vaccine related health issues, and is an expert spokesperson of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health – and also does a lot of our media work on this topic at the iHV, which we are extremely grateful to Helen for.

In this episode, Helen and Alison discuss:

  • Why vaccines are so important.
  • Current vaccination rates and the main reasons why they are falling.
  • Ways to tackle the problem – particularly the health visitor’s role in prevention, personalised support, and improving access to vaccinations.

If you want to learn more about childhood vaccinations – Professor Helen Bedford has authored a health visitor Good Practice point, “Promoting the uptake of childhood immunisations” available to iHV members here.

You can read our news story about the NHS Vaccination Strategy posted in December 2023, with links to the strategy here.

Helen has also authored an iHV News Story, “Starting school, is your child fully vaccinated?” on this topic here.

For an update on confirmed cases of measles in England, see latest UKHSA data here.

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