Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Got titers?

Remember that feeling of exhilaration when you received your letter of acceptance to KUMC?  That wonderful feeling may have been short-lived when you saw all the requirements that were due before stepping foot on campus! 

Many students at KUMC are required to submit titers as part of their enrollment paperwork.  But what is a titer, anyway?  And why are titers required at KUMC?  You probably never needed them for any other school.

Titers are important blood tests that tell us whether you are immune to certain diseases.  Most people who received their childhood vaccinations will be immune to Measles, Mumps and Rubella.  Hepatitis B and Chicken Pox are a little less certain because not everyone has been vaccinated or has had Chicken Pox Disease. 

Many students at KUMC work with patients through clinical activities.  Titers as proof of immunity become important in a couple of situations.  If a patient has a communicable disease such as chicken pox, we know you are safe to work with that patient if your blood work shows that you are immune. Other situations may arise, such as the recent measles outbreak.  Students who have proven immunity to measles are allowed to continue clinical work without concern that they may contract or spread the disease.

Hepatitis B immunity is important because that disease is spread through contact with blood or body fluids from an infected person.  As a clinical student, it is not uncommon to come in contact with blood or body fluids through a needle-stick or a splash.  A student with proven immunity to Hepatitis B will not have to worry about becoming infected through contact with infectious body fluids. 

And here’s a little-known fact:  Some people who receive all their immunizations do not become immune.  These people are known as “non-responders” and research has shown that additional booster shots are not likely to result in immunity.  Titers help us identify these people so that they are protected in certain situations.  For example, someone who is non-responsive to the measles vaccine may have to go on furlough if a measles outbreak hits KUMC.  Other people who do not become immune to Hepatitis B will need to receive a shot of immune globulin if they come in contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is infected with Hepatitis B. 

Titers serve another important function.  Some students cannot access their childhood immunization records.  If this is the case, we will accept a titer as proof of immunity and the vaccinations will not need to be repeated, as long as you are immune.

Titers may also be required in clinical settings outside KUMC.   At KUMC, we sign contracts with outside agencies so that our students can rotate there.  Some of these contracts specify that titers are on file.  KUMC is subject to audits to prove that we are keeping our contractual agreements. 

KUMC Student Health offers titers at a very reasonable price.  Titers are $15 each, plus a $15 venipuncture charge.  If you have not had your titers done before coming to KUMC, I highly recommend that you do them through our office.  It is generally less expensive, and you are guaranteed to get the correct blood test without additional unnecessary tests.  Of course, we will also accept titers from outside sources as well.  Call 913-588-1941 if you would like to schedule your titer or if you have additional questions. 
My name is Jennifer Blanck, RN, and I am always happy to hear from students and help in any way I can. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions regarding your requirements. My direct line is 913-588-2018.