Mass vaccination programmes aim to maintain the effective reproduction number R of an infection below unity. We describe methods for monitoring the value of R using surveillance data. The models are based on branching processes in which R is identified with the offspring mean. We derive unconditional likelihoods for the offspring mean using data on outbreak size and outbreak duration. We also discuss Bayesian methods, implemented by Metropolis-Hastings sampling. We investigate by simulation the validity of the models with respect to depletion of susceptibles and under-ascertainment of cases. The methods are illustrated using surveillance data on measles in the USA.