Why are different vaccination schedules used in different countries?
Most countries around the world tend to recommend the same kinds of vaccines for babies, children and adults. However, vaccination schedules are not exactly the same from country to country. There may be differences in:
- the number of different types of vaccines included in the programme
- the manufacturers who supply the vaccines (leading to different brand names)
- the ages at which vaccines and boosters are recommended
- the number of vaccine doses that are recommended for each vaccine
- the types of vaccines recommended for the whole population
- the types of vaccines recommended for special groups (such as pregnant people)
In the US and Canada, for example, the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age, while in the UK the programme is targeted to children over the age of 2 years, adults over 65 years, pregnant women and special groups such as those with serious medical conditions. Some vaccines are not included in the UK routine programme, but are recommended in other countries; for example, chickenpox (varicella) vaccines are routinely recommended in Australia and the USA, but not in the UK. In the UK the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine is offered to pregnant women in order to protect their newborn babies, and this programme has been very successful. However, some countries recommend ‘cocooning’ (vaccination of close contacts of pregnant people) instead, while most countries just offer the pertussis vaccine to babies.
These variations are the result of:
Due to these differences, there is no single correct immunisation schedule for worldwide use and it is important that you follow the recommended schedule for your region.
The sections below provides information and links to immunisation schedules in different regions. If you are unsure about the vaccinations you need in your area, or you cannot find your country on this list, please contact your relevant healthcare professional.
Vaccination schedules by region