A single copy of this article may be reprinted for personal, noncommercial use only.
Immunization: Are you immune to a disease?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/immunization/AN02128
- With Mayo Clinic internist
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.James Steckelberg, M.D.
Dr. James Steckelberg is a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
A native of Fremont, Neb., Dr. Steckelberg was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine as a resident in internal medicine and a fellow in infectious diseases, and is board certified in both. He is the former director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Steckelberg belongs to numerous professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society and a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has served on many Mayo Clinic committees and is a member of the Department of Medicine Leadership Committee and of the executive committee of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He also served on the editorial boards of "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" and "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" and has been an editorial reviewer for more than a dozen publications.
Dr. Steckelberg's research interests include experimental models of infection, epidemiology of infection, and antimicrobial resistance and therapy of bacterial infections.
Staying healthy (12)
- Will an air purifier eliminate cigarette smoke?
- Cellphones and cancer: What's the risk?
- Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
- see all in Staying healthy
Dental care (7)
- Electric toothbrush: Better than a manual toothbrush?
- Sensitive teeth: What treatments are available?
- Heart disease prevention: Does oral health matter?
- see all in Dental care
Skin care (9)
- Does sunscreen expire?
- Tanning beds: Safer than the sun?
- Latisse: The answer for longer, thicker eyelashes?
- see all in Skin care
Nail care (4)
- Acrylic nails: Can they harm natural nails?
- Split fingernails: Can they be prevented?
- Nail biting: Does it cause long-term damage?
- see all in Nail care
Eye care (2)
- Choosing sunglasses: Is UV protection important?
- Eye exam: Is a laser retina scan worthwhile?
- Melatonin side effects: What are the risks?
- Sleep and weight gain: What's the connection?
- Sleep aids: Could antihistamines help me sleep?
- see all in Sleep
Mental health (2)
- Passive-aggressive behavior: What are the red flags?
- Stop multitasking and learn how to focus
Healthy at work (4)
- Shift work: Improving daytime sleep
- Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting?
- Leg pain after prolonged standing or sitting: A concern?
- see all in Healthy at work
Immunization: Are you immune to a disease?
I'm unsure of my current immunization status. How can I tell if I'm immune to a disease?
from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.
The simplest way to determine your immunization status is to check your medical records. Contact your previous doctors for information about your past immunizations. Immunization information systems (IIS) — computerized systems that keep confidential immunization records of people in a specific region — also may be helpful. Contact the local or state health department for details.
If you have unknown or uncertain immunization status, you're considered susceptible to an infection and your doctor may recommend vaccination — either immediately or on an age-appropriate schedule. Generally, vaccinating someone who's already immune isn't considered harmful.
Another option is a blood test to check for the presence of antibodies to certain infections, such as measles, rubella, hepatitis or tetanus. Antibodies are substances produced by the immune system in response to natural infections or vaccination. If you have antibodies for certain infections, you're considered immune.
Keep in mind, however, that vaccines offer protection from a variety of serious or potentially fatal diseases. The surest way to immunity is to receive a vaccine.Next question
Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
- Pickering LK, et al. Section 1. Active and passive immunization: Active immunization - Unknown or uncertain immunization status. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book Online. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/1.5.12?cookietest=yes. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Pickering LK, et al. Section 1. Active and passive immunization: Active immunization — Immunizations received outside the United States. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009. American Academy of Pediatrics Red Book Online. http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/1.5.13. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. General recommendations on immunization: Recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices (ACIP). MMWR. 2006;55:1. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5515.pdf. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Vaccination records: Finding, interpreting and recording. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/immuniz-records.htm. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.