A titer looks at the amount of a substance that is in a solution. In the field of immunology, a titer is the measure of the amount of antibodies found in the blood that would signal that a person might have been exposed to or vaccinated against a particular virus or bacteria. For example, a healthcare provider may order a measles titer, hep B titer, varicella titer, or rabies titer test to measure if you still have the ability to fight off a specific disease. In general, a high titer indicates a high number of antibodies and possible immunity either from previous exposure or vaccination.
A titer test is performed using a blood sample. There is no fasting or special prep required for the test. The sample is sent to a lab, and the results are normally available within 24 to 72 hours.
In general, you should wait six to eight weeks after completing the appropriate vaccination regimen to have a titer drawn. Having a titer drawn too early may result in a false negative since you’ll still be in the process of developing antibodies.
MD Now providers offer titer tests at all of our locations in Indian River, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. We are open seven days a week with extended hours, and you never need an appointment.
Titer tests are most commonly performed in the following situations:
An MMR titer checks for immunity against mumps, measles, and rubella. The MMR titer cannot be used to diagnose mumps, measles, or rubella, but it can confirm if you have antibody immunity resulting from a prior illness or vaccination. Some schools and workplaces, such as hospitals, may require you to have an MMR titer to prove immunity, especially if you cannot provide evidence of vaccination.
Similar to an MMR titer, a varicella titer checks the blood for antibodies against the varicella virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Many schools and child care facilities require proof of vaccination or immunity through a titer when enrolling. A varicella titer can also be used to diagnose a current chickenpox infection.
It is possible to become immune to hepatitis B through vaccination or by recovering from a hepatitis B infection. The best way to determine if you are immune is to have a hepatitis B surface antibody test, which is also known as a hep B titer. It is common for students and employees in the healthcare fields to have a hepatitis B titer as a requirement for employment. A titer may also be ordered after a needle stick or other potential exposure to confirm immunity.
A low or negative titer means that you have little to no immunity to the specific virus tested. For example, it is not unusual for a person to have a negative measles titer after only one dose of the MMR vaccine. If this happens after you have completed all of the required vaccinations for the particular series and waited the appropriate amount of time, you may need to be revaccinated. If you still test negative after getting a booster, you should discuss the situation with a healthcare provider. Although rare, there are some individuals who do not respond to the vaccine. If this is the case, you should talk to your provider about ways to protect yourself and others. It is also possible to have a low or negative titer if you test too soon following a vaccination or if the vaccine itself is degraded because of improper handling and storage.
No medical test is 100% accurate; however, vaccine titer tests are generally a reliable indication of a person’s immunity to a particular disease.
The most common diseases tested for with vaccination titers include:
In addition to titers to measure a person’s response to a vaccination, titers are also available to check for current or past infection with a variety of diseases ranging from pertussis to tick-borne illnesses.
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