Childhood vaccination has played a critical role in the reduction of morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases, including specific respiratory pathogens. Acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) of both bacterial and viral aetiology continues to impact global child health. Key bacterial pathogens including Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenza type b are specifically targeted with current vaccination programmes, while at present there are less effective strategies for the prevention of viral disease. Influenza vaccines, including both live attenuated intranasal vaccines and inactivated influenza vaccines, are limited by seasonal strain variation and unsustained immunity. Research into the development of a universal influenza vaccine is ongoing; potential targets are the conserved regions of the virus such as the M2e antigen and hemagglutinin stalk. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus 3 (PIV3) are the viral pathogens most commonly causing ALRI in children, particularly the infant population. Currently, no vaccine exists for either virus. Over the last decade, promising advances have been made. Protection of neonates via maternal RSV immunisation is being assessed in a phase III clinical trial, with many other candidates for RSV and PIV3 at less advanced stages of development.