Many illnesses are preventable with the proper vaccines, including measles, tetanus, hepatitis, and whooping cough. An immunization test will check for antibodies to these and other diseases.
Why you should get tested
Antibody testing lets your doctor know the diseases you have immunity from and which vaccines you’ll need to get.
Who should get tested
You should get tested if you lack access to your vaccination records and need to provide evidence of immunity against a disease. Testing is also recommended if you’re traveling to a foreign country.
When to get tested
Immunization tests can be performed at any time. If you were recently vaccinated, you should wait for one to two months before testing for more accurate results.
No special preparation is needed for immunization testing, but you should tell your doctor about any medications, supplements, or vitamins you’re taking before the test is performed. If you’ve recently undergone or are currently receiving chemotherapy, let your doctor know. Research suggests that chemotherapy may cause a drop in antibody titers.
To perform an immunization test, a doctor or other health care worker will draw blood directly from a vein using a small needle. They will tie a band above the area where the sample will be taken, then sterilize your skin with antiseptic before drawing blood. When the test is complete, the health care provider will remove the needle and apply pressure with a gauze or a cotton ball to minimize bleeding. They’ll place a bandage over the injection site, which you can remove whenever you feel comfortable.
Your immunization test results should be ready within 24 to 72 hours. A health care provider may contact you by phone to discuss the results, or you might be able to view them online via your electronic patient portal.
If the titers you were tested for come back positive, it may mean that you’ve been vaccinated against that particular pathogen or have already been exposed to it, which indicates immunity to the disease.
If a test is negative, it means you don’t have immunity to that disease, so you may need to be vaccinated against it. A negative result is considered normal if your doctor tested for antinuclear antibodies (ANA), which can cause your immune system to attack your body’s tissues and organs by mistake. In this case, negative titers may be used to rule out autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, thyroid diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Learn more about immunization testing from the sources used in this guide.