Titer talk: An alternative to annual vaccinations

August 2, 2016

Veterinarian advocates testing immune response rather than giving vaccine unnecessarily.

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Dr. Jeff WerberJeff Werber, DVM, owner of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles, has seen his share of anti-vaxxers in his veterinary clinic. In fact, he's a bit of an anti-vaxxer himself.

Not the kind who doesn't believe in scientific evidence or the control of infectious disease (settle down now), but the kind who questions the necessity of repeated vaccination over the life of an animal when research indicates that at least some vaccines confer long-term immunity.

To that end, Dr. Werber advocates for titer testing in place of unquestioning vaccination at every visit. “I suggest we do a titer test to check the animal's immune status, and if it comes back showing that the animal's unprotected, I'll give the vaccine for free,” Dr. Werber says. “Clients love that, especially the ones who may be a little leery of giving vaccines unnecessarily.”

In his 20 years of titering, Dr. Werber says he's never had a patient acquire a disease when its titer indicated immunity. He faces naysayers in the veterinary community, both on the clinical and business sides. But clinically, he's confident that the tests err on the side of patient safety when results are on the edge, and when it comes to recommending a $50 titer test versus a $20 vaccination-well, no one ever accused Dr. Jeff Werber of not being able to sell a service.

“Some of my colleagues have accused me of being a salesman,” Dr. Werber says. “But that's not really what this is about. If you recommend what you believe in and treat clients right, they're going to do what's best for their pets.”