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.

Vaccination timetable

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

Your child may have more than one vaccine at each appointment if this simplifies the vaccination procedure – for example, because you'll only need to visit your GP once.

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.

The childhood vaccination schedule was simplified in November 2010. The MMR vaccine, Hib/MenC vaccine and PCV vaccine are now given in one appointment when a child is between 12 and 13 months of age.

Previously, the Hib/MenC vaccine was given at 12 months, and then MMR and PCV at 13 months. After evidence showed that giving these vaccines together did not change their effectiveness, the Department of Health was advised that these vaccines could be combined in one visit to simplify the vaccination schedule.

What are vaccine boosters?

A primary course of vaccination may consist of several doses in a short period of time (for example, 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 that a vaccine needs is decided based on what gives the most protection.

For example, children have five doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccines 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)
  • one before leaving secondary school (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: 11/11/2012

Next review due: 10/11/2014