Is there a limit to how many vaccinations you can have?

There is no limit to the number of vaccines you can have in your life. For example, healthcare workers may need more vaccines than other people, as they are more likely to come into contact with diseases.

As with all medicines, the safety of vaccines is extensively tested before they become available for general use and are carefully monitored to identify any side effects.

Vaccination timetable

Most vaccinations are given during childhood. For more information, see When are vaccinations given?

To simplify the vaccination schedule, some injections contain vaccines against several diseases, such as the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, which is given to two-month-old children and contains vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent expert committee, advises the Department of Health on the age at which vaccines should ideally be given. 

What are vaccine boosters?

A primary course of vaccination may consist of several doses in a short period of time (for example, over a period of six months) to ensure an effective antibody response.

Further doses may be given several years later to maintain the level of antibodies in your body. This top-up vaccine is called a booster.

The number of primary and booster doses of a vaccine that are needed is decided based on what gives the most protection.

For example, children have five doses of the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine to ensure long-term protection through adulthood. These doses are given over quite a long period:

  • three doses as a baby (primary course)
  • one at pre-school age (booster)
  • around 14 years old (booster)

When one vaccine is enough

In some cases, only one dose of a vaccine is required. For example, the BCG vaccine is given as a single dose to people at increased risk of developing tuberculosis. This is because there is no evidence that additional doses provide any extra protection.

Unknown vaccination history

If your child has not received any or all of their vaccinations, it's important that they are fully vaccinated to ensure they are protected. If you're not sure if your child has had all their vaccinations, talk to your GP or practice nurse.

Read the answers to more questions about vaccinations.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 05/11/2014

Next review due: 04/11/2016