Vaccination has saved many lives and prevented needless suffering from disease, but it is not always effective. Immune responses are a highly "personalized" aspect of an individual's biology, as they are subject to germline genetic influences but are embodied in cell populations that continuously sample the environment. Additionally, immunity is shaped by memory of prior infectious diseases and other antigenic exposures. Here, we review examples of recent technical advances and insights into human vaccine responses that are helping to define the features associated with successful vaccination and that may enable a more predictive vaccinology in the future.
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