It probably seems like a silly question, but can titers help you tell the difference between vaccine induced vs natural immunity?
After all, you should know if you had the disease naturally or if you had a vaccine, right?
Titers for Vaccine vs Natural Immunity
Still, there might be situations in which you need to know if someone has immunity and you want to know if it was vaccine induced or if they earned their immunity naturally.
Unfortunately, you typically can’t, especially as most vaccines mimic having a natural infection.
In a few situations, if a vaccine targets a very specific part of a virus or bacteria, it may be able possible to tell the difference between vaccine-induced and natural immunity though.
The hepatitis B vaccine, for example, is derived from HBsAg particles, so won’t induce antibodies against hepatitis B core antigen or other hepatitis B proteins.
Most other vaccines, like MMR and Varicella, aren’t so specific. Titers might just show that you are immune, although titer tests aren’t always sensitive enough to pick up vaccine-induced immunity. That’s why, expect for a few high risk situations, titer testing isn’t usually recommended.
More on Titers for Vaccine vs Natural Immunity
- VAXOPEDIA – How Often Should You Do Vaccine Titer Testing?
- VAXOPEDIA – Why Was My Titer Negative After My Chicken Pox Vaccine?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did Your Rubella Titer Come Back Negative?
- VAXOPEDIA – Did Your Hepatitis B Antibody Test Come Back Negative?
- VAXOPEDIA – Challenging the Concept of Herd Immunity
- ACOG – Routine Tests During Pregnancy
- ACIP – Human Rabies Prevention — United States, 2008
- ACIP – Immunization of Health-Care Personnel: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
- CDC – Laboratory Support for Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
- MMWR – Guidance for Evaluating Health-Care Personnel for Hepatitis B Virus Protection and for Administering Postexposure Management
- Titer and Vaccination Explanations – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY (it’ll save you time/$$)
- Serologic Evidence of Immunity
- Seroconversion after measles or MMR vaccine
- Rubella: Questions and Answers
- CDC – Chickenpox | Interpreting Laboratory Tests
- CDC – Who should receive routine rabies virus serological testing?
- MMWR – Guidance for Assessment of Poliovirus Vaccination Status and Vaccination of Children Who Have Received Poliovirus Vaccine Outside the United States
- CDC – Mumps Laboratory Confirmation by IgM Serology and Questions and Answers
- Study – How to determine protective immunity in the post-vaccine era.
- Study – Use and limitations of varicella-zoster virus-specific serological testing to evaluate breakthrough disease in vaccinees and to screen for susceptibility to varicella.
- Vaccinating Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease