Vaccination is one of the most important innovations in human history. It has also become a hot research
area in a new application - the development of new vaccines against non-infectious diseases such as cancers.
However, effective and safe vaccines still do not exist for many diseases, and where vaccines exist, their
protective immune mechanisms are often unclear. Although licensed vaccines are generally safe, various adverse
events, and sometimes severe adverse events, still exist for a small population. Precision medicine tailors
medical intervention to the personal characteristics of individual patients or sub-populations of individuals with
similar immunity-related characteristics. Precision vaccinology is a new strategy that applies precision medicine
to the development, administration, and post-administration analysis of vaccines. Several conditions contribute
to make this the right time to embark on the development of precision vaccinology. First, the increased level of
research in vaccinology has generated voluminous “big data” repositories of vaccinology data. Secondly, new
technologies such as multi-omics and immunoinformatics bring new methods for investigating vaccines and
immunology. Finally, the advent of AI and machine learning software now makes possible the marriage of Big
Data to the development of new vaccines in ways not possible before. However, something is missing in this
marriage, and that is a common language that facilitates the correlation, analysis, and reporting nomenclature
for the field of vaccinology. Solving this bioinformatics problem is the domain of applied biomedical ontology.
Ontology in the informatics field is human- and machine-interpretable representation of entities and the relations
among entities in a specific domain. The Vaccine Ontology (VO) and Ontology of Vaccine Adverse
Events (OVAE) have been developed to support the standard representation of vaccines, vaccine components,
vaccinations, host responses, and vaccine adverse events. Many other biomedical ontologies have also been developed
and can be applied in vaccine research. Here, we review the current status of precision vaccinology and
how ontological development will enhance this field, and propose an ontology-based precision vaccinology
strategy to support precision vaccine research and development.