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Influenza and the Blood Supply

Frequently asked questions regarding influenza and the blood supply:

Q. How long do I have to wait to donate blood if I have had the flu?
A.
Blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation. You should wait until you no longer have flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before you attempt to donate.  
 
Q. Can I get the flu from a blood transfusion?
A.
No. Influenza virus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion. According to research, seasonal influenza does not appear to pose a significant contamination threat to the blood supply.
 
Q. Can I donate, or how long do I have to wait to donate, if I’ve had a flu vaccination?
A.
You can donate after receiving the influenza vaccine if you are symptom-free and meet all other eligibility requirements. Neither the flu shot nor the intranasal form of the influenza vaccine is cause for a blood donation deferral because there is no risk of transmitting influenza after receiving the vaccines.
 
Q. How is the flu impacting the blood supply?
A.
The flu season may cause a decline in local blood donations as donors experience flu-like symptoms.  Anyone who is not feeling well on the day of donation will be deferred from giving blood. Because donors are unable to keep their appointments, the Red Cross is seeing a lower-than-expected turnout at some scheduled blood drives.
 
Q. Are Red Cross staff members taking precautions to help prevent the spread of the flu?
A.
Red Cross staff members take standard precautions to prevent the spread of the flu, including: frequent hand washing, cough etiquette, influenza vaccination, and appropriate management of ill staff members to minimize potential exposure.

More information about preventing influenza is available at the following locations:
American Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Steps-to-Avoid-the-Flu
CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/index.htm.

Q: How do I sign up to donate?
A:
Please call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org to schedule or cancel a blood donation appointment. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.  Eligible donors can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to redcrossblood.org for more information and to make a blood donation appointment.