A team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has designed a new type of micro-particle that could combine everything into a single jab.
The particles look like miniature coffee cups that are filled with vaccine and then sealed with a lid.
Crucially, the design of the cups can be altered so they break down and spill their contents at just the right time.
One set of tests showed the contents could be released at exactly nine, 20 and 41 days after they were injected into mice.
Other particles that last for hundreds of days have also been developed, the researchers say.
The approach has not yet been tested on patients.
Prof Robert Langer, from MIT, said: “We are very excited about this work.
“For the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it.
“This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere, especially in the developing world.”