Is it Safe to Donate Blood During the Pandemic?
Did you know blood is needed every two seconds in the United States? It could be needed for COVID-19 patients, babies, leukemia patients, burn victims, emergency surgeries, organ transplants, trauma patients and the list goes on. It may be needed for someone you know – even you. Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of our communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, blood banks across the nation are experiencing shortages of blood, in part, because people are afraid to donate during the pandemic. But rest assured, with the safety precautions Ochsner has in place, you can feel safe when donating blood.
The safety of our donors and employees is Ochsner’s top priority, and Ochsner Blood Bank has taken appropriate measures to prioritize the health of those collecting, donating and receiving blood. In addition to our existing ongoing safety procedures, Ochsner Blood Bank has added new measures to help keep you well. To ensure a clean, safe environment for donors, here are some things you can expect when donating blood:
- Masks and temperature checks on arrival - When you enter any Ochsner facility, including an Ochsner Blood Bank, staff, patients and donors are required to wear face masks and participate in a mandatory temperature check. If you do not have your own mask, Ochsner Blood Bank will provide you with one. Please note: The Blood Bank asks that you please postpone your donation for 28 days if you have traveled to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea, or if you’ve been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Healthy blood donors are encouraged to donate every 8 weeks.
- Social distancing – Ochsner Blood Bank follows social distancing best practices between donors including donor beds, as well as waiting and refreshment areas.
- Regularly cleaning of all public areas at Ochsner Blood Bank - While our staff is always diligent about cleaning our facilities, we have increased the number of times a day that our staff cleans all public areas. Maintaining a clean environment is highly important to the health and well-being of our donors and staff. Our team uses enhanced disinfecting on surfaces and equipment and wipes down donor-touched areas after every collection.
- All staff wears gloves, and gloves are changed between each donor
- Sterile equipment - Our team uses sterile collection sets for every donation.
- Additional hand sanitizer available – Our team will provide donors with hand sanitizer for use before entering and throughout the donation appointment.
- Laundering of blankets between each use – Blankets that are typically used for our platelet donors are washed after each use. If donors would like to bring their own blankets, they are welcomed to. Electric blankets and heating pads are not permitted.
Is there a deferral time to donate blood for individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine?
With more and more people gaining access to the COVID vaccines, you also may be wondering if you have to wait to donate blood after receiving the vaccine. Currently, there is no deferral period for individuals who received a nonreplicating, inactivated or mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and recently approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Individuals who receive these vaccines can donate blood without a waiting period.
Who can give?
Finding someone else with the same blood type can be difficult. That is why it is essential for donor diversity to match the patient diversity. Donors must:
- Be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.
- Be over cold or flu symptoms for 72 hours.
- Have had no dental work (including cleaning) in the last 72 hours.
- Have not donated whole blood in the last eight weeks.
- Have had no transfusions in the last 3 months.
- Have not lived with a person who HAS hepatitis in the last 12 months.
- Have had no tattoos or piercing in the last month from a facility that is regulated by the state of Louisiana; or in the last 3 months from a facility that is NOT regulated by the state of Louisiana.
While all blood types are accepted, we are experiencing a critical blood shortage of platelets and Type O red cells. All who are healthy are encouraged to donate.
Learn where you can donate today: ochsner.org/bloodbank.