I have always taken my kids for just one shot at a time. I feel that their bodies can better cope with the toxins that come along with a vaccination, and goodness knows it makes sense to me to only fight one disease at a time! (I realize that some vaccines are already combinations, and yes I do get those as they are...but I'm not going to get my kid shot up with a diptheria-tetanus-pertussis, a measles-mumps-rubella, AND a polio all on the same day!) I have had medical providers who were supportive of my choice, and providers who were not so much... But I smile and stand my ground and do it my way anyway. One per visit, no exceptions. I don't get any shots before 6 months old, and I get them when I get them--no fretting over following anyone elses schedule or being done by a certain age.
It has been my experience that with a toddler, they don't know what is coming. It hurts for a moment, they are upset and begin to cry, and by then it is over and so they recover and calm down again almost immediately.
As they get to be 3 or 4 though, it gets harder.
I don't feel that it's honest to trick my kids (and can you think of an appropriate way to convince your child to drop his pants without telling him why?!) I avoid telling him until the last moment (because the anticipation is usually worse than the actual shot), but I do tell him. I explain that there will be a poke, it will be fast, then it will be over. I tell them why we do it--that the shot gives us a tiny bit of sickness, but that it's small enough that our body can fight it and make soldier cells to protect us from that sickness so that if it comes big we will be able to kill it (yes, I have boys, this is how we explain everything around here!).
Usually we go do something special afterward--an extra long day at the park, getting ice cream, etc. I tell him that it's ok to cry if he needs to (once Bear told me he didn't deserve ice cream because he had cried so he wasn't brave, so I made sure to nip that in the bud the next time). Often I take two or three kids together, and everybody gets a poke. In that case, I talk to the one who gets the most distressed (currently it's Bear), and I let him make some choices, such as whether he will be first or last, which arm, etc. It gives him control over something in a situation where he hasn't been given a choice, and I think that's important.
I have always taken them for just one shot per visit, but recently I had begun to wonder if the emotional distress of having so many separate visits might be harder on the kiddo than getting two shots at once. Bear gets really worked up, and will bawl for an hour (as I remember doing myself).
This last month, the whole family went in together. Hepatitis A is of concern out here in the bush, and so Hubby and I opted to get that along with the kids. Several of us also needed to get a tuberculosis screening, which is not a vaccination, but does involve a(nother) poke. When we walked into the room there was a tray with 8 needles on it, and Bear was very distressed, even after I explained that we were all getting shots and that they were not all for him.
Afterward, Bear told me that he didn't like getting pokes here, that it was better where we used to live. I thought he was going to say something about how he would only get pokes if we went back to the old place (which we both know isn't possible), but instead he just said "I liked it better there because we only got one poke instead of two." So it seems that--even for someone who gets really upset at each episode of poking--it's still better to do them one at a time, even if it means more total visits.
So we'll stick with the plan. One shot in a visit. No exceptions. The public health nurse can roll her eyes all she wants.