Ask The Expert
December 01, 2011
There are rare reports of people developing positive antibody tests for rheumatoid arthritis after multiple vaccinations. But I canít find a report of this happening after having hepatitis and HPV vaccinations. Plus, there are rare reports of people who have developed rheumatoid arthritis and related conditions soon after getting vaccinated, especially after getting older versions of the rubella (German measles) vaccination.
Doctors do not routinely check these antibodies after a vaccination unless there are other factors, such as joint pain or swelling. So itís not known how often these antibodies might show up after routine vaccinations like yours.
There are two common antibody tests for evaluating rheumatoid arthritis:
You donít name the test you had. A RF level of 36 international units (IU) would be thought of as nearly normal in our lab. Unless you had chronic joint pain and swelling, itís unlikely to mean much. But an anti-CCP level in this range makes it more likely that you have rheumatoid arthritis now. Or that you might develop it in the future.
Without knowing which test you had, your symptoms, and what your physical exam shows, itís impossible to say whether your result is a false-positive. For the same reasons, itís impossible to say whether your positive results might be related to one of your vaccinations.
So talk to your doctor about any joint symptoms you have, and your test results. It may turn out that the timing between the vaccinations and your test results is just a coincidence.