Temperatures have cooled for most of the country, signaling that cold and flu season is officially here. As a current or potential donor, you may be wondering how illnesses (like COVID-19, colds, and the flu) and vaccinations can impact your eligibility to donate. Below are a few reminders to help you determine when and how you can safely give blood.
Cold, Flu and Other Illnesses
Colds and flu illnesses can easily spread through your office, children’s school and various public spaces, so it’s likely that you will have the sniffles at some point this winter season. If you are experiencing symptoms like a fever or a productive cough (bringing up phlegm) on the day of your donation appointment, it’s advised that you reschedule. You should also wait to come in if you do not feel well on the day of donation. If you’re currently on antibiotic treatment for a sinus, throat or lung infection, any donation appointments should be rescheduled for after you complete that treatment.
COVID-19, RSV and Flu Vaccination
Receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccine has become a regular part of flu season for many. Additionally, the vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, is now also recommended for people 60 and older to protect against this cold-like illness that has grown to impact many each year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this winter is expected to see similar infection and hospitalization numbers as last year for influenza, RSV and COVID-19.
The American Red Cross encourages individuals to protect their own health this cold season by receiving a vaccination for flu, COVID-19 or RSV. Receiving any of these vaccines causes no wait period to donate and does not affect donation eligibility, if you are healthy, feeling well and symptom-free at the time of donation.
Healthy Donors Are Needed Daily
If you are feeling well and show no symptoms of infection, please come in to donate. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood and your donation could be a lifeline for patients battling cancer or recovering from surgery. And, according to Dr. Baia Lasky of the Red Cross, “It’s particularly important that when we see an increase in respiratory illnesses, that those who are in good health share their good health by giving blood.”
For more information on requirements for donating blood, please check the Eligibility Criteria page. You can also find a blood drive or schedule a donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).