Interim CMO Professor Dame Sally Davies has written to GPs advising children should be given the MMR, Hib/MenC and PCV 13 vaccines in a single visit when aged between 12 and 13 months.
The recommendation was made by the department’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) after evidence showed it was safe to co-administer the three vaccines in one visit.
The committee said the changes would simplify the vaccination schedule and may increase uptake.
At present, a fourth dose of the Hib/MenC vaccine, which protects against haemophilus influenzae type b and meningitis C infections, is administered at about 12 months.
Children are then invited back four weeks later for the MMR and PCV-13 vaccine, the latter of which protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal infection.
The appointment should not take place before a child’s first birthday, Dame Sally said.
Advice from the JCVI states: ‘Health professionals will need to be ready to reassure parents that combining vaccinations into one appointment and giving three at a time is safe.’
They should also reiterate that MMR is safe and that there are significant benefits to baby and parent in having one fewer appointment and reduced distress.
Changes to the vaccination schedule should be made as soon as practicable, the DoH said.