PM.20.015 – Personalized vaccination: the next era of protecting risk groups from infectious diseases

Route: Personalised medicine: the individual at the centre

Cluster question: 096 How can we improve diagnostics, treatment, and vaccines for immunodeficiencies and infectious diseases?

Prevention of infectious diseases by immunization is a prerequisite to avoid morbidity and mortality early in life and ensure healthy ageing, which is of increasing importance in the growing population of older adults. However, although most vaccines are effective at the population level, vaccine effectiveness at the individual level differs between persons and between vaccines. This heterogeneity between individuals is caused by a complex interplay of physiological and immunological changes, and differences in exposure to risk factors over the life course. Little is known on the combined effects of such changes on the ability of the body to control infectious diseases and vaccine responsiveness. Understanding the factors influencing the individual immune responsiveness will be crucial for improvement of current and development of new vaccines for vulnerable target groups. This is of utmost importance in an era where novel pathogen variants emerge and pose threats to a diverse human population. Today’s major challenge is therefore to improve vaccine efficacy across all ages and to define clear vaccination strategies to protect the population as a whole against infectious diseases. This demands a more personalized approach for vaccination strategies. Here we propose, through a multi-disciplinary approach, to provide evidence-based knowledge to develop targeted vaccination strategies in different (aged) risk groups, including individuals with chronic diseases, cancer, undergoing therapy or otherwise experiencing disturbances in immune responses posing them at increased risk for infections. To this end we will perform in-depth studies into underlying immunological deficits and life-time exposures that inhibit proper response to vaccination to 1) identify different classes of risk groups, 2) develop strategies to improve vaccination and 3) develop biomarkers to guide personalized vaccination of these different groups. Profound understanding of immunological processes and extrinsic factors influencing proper immunological memory will provide a solid basis for rational development of personalized vaccines.


healthy ageing, immunity, infectious diseases, Prevention, vaccination

Other organisations

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), Utrecht University (UU)


Organisation Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen (UMCG)
Name Prof.dr D. (Debbie) van Baarle