Last updated on: 8/21/2014 | Author:

Helen Bedford, PhD Biography

Senior Lecturer in Children's Health at University College London Institute of Child Health
Con to the question "Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?"

“Even where immunization is generally mandatory, in a free democracy, there has almost always been the provision for parents with conscientious objections to withhold their children from the immunization program. When smallpox vaccination was made compulsory in the 19th century in the United Kingdom, it was the poor who suffered. If they persisted in refusing immunization, they were fined or even sent to jail, for inability to pay. On the other hand, the affluent simply paid their fines and the children remained unimmunized. It was not long before conscience clauses were introduced and any element of compulsion abolished in 1948 with the introduction of the National Health Service.

In an era when people are less accepting of authority and do not expect to do something because the government says so, trying to enforce immunization may actually make matters worse and create martyrs. Those who have genuine religious objections are unlikely to allow their children to be immunized, whatever the penalty. Parents who are hesitating about their vaccine decision because of concerns over vaccine safety may change their minds if given time and an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a well-informed health professional.”

Cowritten with David Elliman, “In Britain, Vaccinate with Persuasion, Not Coercion,”, Mar. 23, 2014

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Senior Lecturer, Children’s Health, University College London Institute of Child Health, 1986-present
  • Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University College London Institute of Child Health
  • Coordinator, MSc Nursing and MSc Midwifery programs, University of Aberdeen
  • External Examiner, Midwifery, Northumbria University
  • Member, Scottish Heads of Academic Nursing and Allied Health Professionals (SHANAHP)
  • Member, NHS Grampian Consultant Nurse, Midwife and Allied Health Professionals Forum
  • Registered Nurse
  • Registered Midwife
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • PhD, University of London, 2000
  • MSc, Kings College London
  • BsC, honors, Midwifery Studies
  • BsC, honors, Nursing Sciences
  • Twitter handle is @HelenEBedford
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Pro & Con Quotes: Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?