Formed in June 2010, the band consists of Justin Young (vocals, who previously worked under the name Jay Jay Pistolet, playing indie folk), Anri Hjorvar (bass), Freddie Cowan (guitar, younger brother of Tom from The Horrors) and Pete Robertson (drums). The band was initially formed by Young and Cowan with a third member who soon left. The band released their demo "If You Wanna" in the Summer of 2010 where the track received praise from Zane Lowe, who awarded it his 'Hottest Record In The World' on 18 August 2010. After playing their first gig in Leicester, they embarked on their first UK tour between September and November 2010, and interest in the band led their first London performance (at The Flowerpot in October 2010) to sell out, with the audience including Alex Kapranos, Marcus Mumford, and members of White Lies and The Maccabees, and 200 people having to be turned away, the performance being described by Clash as "fantastic, exhilarating and exciting".
The band then released their debut single "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)" on 29 November 2010 in the UK where it reached number 157 in the UK Singles Chart. Only one minute and 24 seconds long, it was named 'Track of the Day' by Q magazine. The band recorded their first ever radio session for Marc Riley's BBC 6 Music show in December 2010. The band performed live on Later with Jools Holland and in December 2010, they were one of the nominees in the BBC's 'Sound of 2011'. The band have been signed to play on the NME's 2011 Awards Tour. The band have signed to Columbia Records, and their second single will be "Post Break-Up Sex", released on 24 January 2011. The Vaccines are also up for an MTV Award for "Best New Band of 2011".
The band have drawn comparisons to The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Ramones. They describe their influences as "'50s rock 'n' roll, '60s garage and girl groups, '70s punk, '80s American hardcore, C86 and good pop music".