Differences among individuals influence transmission and spread of infectious diseases as well as the effectiveness of control measures. Control measures, such as vaccines, may provide leaky protection, protecting all hosts to an identical degree, or all-or-nothing protection, protecting some hosts completely while leaving others completely unprotected. This distinction can have a dramatic influence on disease dynamics, yet this distribution of protection is frequently unaccounted for in epidemiological models and estimates of vaccine efficacy. Here, we apply new methodology to experimentally examine host heterogeneity in susceptibility and mode of vaccine action as distinct components influencing disease outcome. Through multiple experiments and new modeling approaches, we show that the distribution of vaccine effects can be robustly estimated. These results offer new experimental and inferential methodology that can improve predictions of vaccine effectiveness and have broad applicability to human, wildlife, and ecosystem health.