Vaccines are among the greatest inventions in medicine, leading to the elimination or control of numerous diseases, including smallpox, polio, measles, rubella, and, most recently, COVID-19. Yet, the effectiveness of vaccines varies among individuals. In fact, while some recipients mount a robust response to vaccination that protects them from the disease, others fail to respond. Multiple clinical and epidemiological factors contribute to this heterogeneity in responsiveness. Systems immunology studies fueled by advances in single-cell biology have been instrumental in uncovering pre-vaccination immune cell types and genomic features (i.e., the baseline immune state, BIS) that have been associated with vaccine responsiveness. Here, we review clinical factors that shape the BIS, and the characteristics of the BIS associated with responsiveness to frequently studied vaccines (i.e., influenza, COVID-19, bacterial pneumonia, malaria). Finally, we discuss potential strategies to enhance vaccine responsiveness in high-risk groups, focusing specifically on older adults.Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.