Immunization is a cornerstone of public health policy and is demonstrably highly cost-effective when used to protect child health. Although it could be argued that immunology has not thus far contributed much to vaccine development, in that most of the vaccines we use today were developed and tested empirically, it is clear that there are major challenges ahead to develop new vaccines for difficult-to-target pathogens, for which we urgently need a better understanding of protective immunity. Moreover, recognition of the huge potential and challenges for vaccines to control disease outbreaks and protect the older population, together with the availability of an array of new technologies, make it the perfect time for immunologists to be involved in designing the next generation of powerful immunogens. This Review provides an introductory overview of vaccines, immunization and related issues and thereby aims to inform a broad scientific audience about the underlying immunological concepts.
Nat Rev Immunol