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About Titers

What Is a Titer?

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.

How Is a Titer Test Performed?

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.

How Long Should I Wait After an Immunization Before Getting a Titer?

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.


Who Should Have a Titer Test?

Titer tests are most commonly performed in the following situations:

  • During pregnancy to confirm immunity to rubella and other diseases that can cause harm to the mother and developing baby.
  • For children and adults exposed during an outbreak and who are unsure if they were previously vaccinated.
  • Healthcare workers, following a needle stick.
  • Children and adults who have lost their vaccination records may need an MMR titer or other titers performed to confirm immunity for work or school.
  • Individuals, such as veterinarians, who are at high risk for contracting rabies.
  • Children adopted from overseas when their vaccination history cannot be confirmed


Types and Immunities

What Is a Measles Mumps Rubella Titer?

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.

What Is a Varicella Titer?

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.


Is It Possible to Be Immune to Hepatitis B?

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.


What Does It Mean to Have Low or Negative Titers After Vaccination?

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.

How Accurate Is a Vaccine Titer Test?

No medical test is 100% accurate; however, vaccine titer tests are generally a reliable indication of a person’s immunity to a particular disease.


What Diseases Can Be Tested With Immunization Titers?

The most common diseases tested for with vaccination titers include:

  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C


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.

The content provided on the MD Now website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for receiving medical care and treatment from a qualified healthcare provider. Never delay seeking advice, evaluation, and treatment from a medical professional because of what you’ve read on this site, since the information provided may not apply to you or your symptoms.