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Vaccination is an important and fundamental part of veterinary practice and in recent years there have been significant changes in recommendations for how vaccines are given. This article reviews the reasons that these changes have occurred and the scope and purpose of vaccination guidelines. The most recent guidelines were issued by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Vaccination Guidelines Group in 2015. The article discusses how veterinarians in the UK might adapt these global guidelines for national use and provides examples of how dogs and cats can best be vaccinated according to WSAVA recommendations. Vaccination should be just one part of a holistic preventive healthcare programme for pets that is most simply delivered within the framework of an annual health check consultation.