Tailor-made vaccines for serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis could substantially reduce disease rates.
Research suggests changing the vaccination approach for diseases caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria could also minimise antibiotic resistance and protect those more vulnerable to infection such as infants and the elderly.
Scientists propose tailor-made vaccines targeting specific bacterial serotypes - groups within a single bacteria species sharing similar features - while taking into account different geographical populations and age groups.
S. pneumoniae is usually present in the nasal cavity, where it is normally harmless.
But it can cause serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis - known collectively as invasive pneumococcal disease - in other parts of the body.
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Imperial College London and Simon Fraser University in Canada used computer simulations to predict how vaccines could be optimised for age groups, geographic regions and communities of bacteria.
This approach helped them identify new vaccine designs that could reduce overall rates of disease.
The study also found that adult disease rates could be reduced by almost 50pc by redesigning adult vaccines to complement those administered to infants.
Their results highlight the need for vaccine programmes to be tailored to specific communities of bacteria and to consider vaccination at different ages, the researchers said.
The findings are published in the journal 'Nature Microbiology'.