COVID-19 Vaccines Create Eligibility Confusion for Blood Donors

January 31, 2021 (LITTLE ROCK) – While recent vaccinations have brought hope to many, they’ve also brought confusion from donors about how receiving the COVID vaccine affects blood donation eligibility.

Individuals who receive the most common COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – are eligible to donate blood and platelets with no waiting time.

Vaccine-related confusion – in conjunction with higher hospital usage due to COVID-19 patients – has created an ongoing need for blood and platelet donations. Now nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas Blood Institute is issuing a renewed call for blood and platelet donors.

“The health of our donors is an integral part of our life-saving mission,” said Dr. John Armitage, president and CEO of Arkansas Blood Institute. “As more Arkansans are vaccinated, it is important for them to know they’re eligible to give blood and platelets, even the same day they receive their vaccination. As the pandemic persists, the impact on the community blood supply continues as well—so we urge healthy adults, age sixteen and up, to make blood donation a priority.”

The need for blood and platelets has risen sharply, as hospital demand for blood increases. Patients undergoing cancer treatments, those suffering trauma, or those battling chronic blood diseases all rely on blood. In fact, every two seconds, someone needs blood that can only be provided by a volunteer blood donor. COVID-19 patients not only receive convalescent plasma, but many also receive additional blood and platelet transfusions.

Currently, convalescent plasma donors—those who have recovered from COVID-19 and donate plasma for critically ill COVID-19 patients—are not eligible to donate convalescent plasma after receiving the vaccine. However, they can still donate critically needed blood or platelets.

“We will see an update to the eligibility of convalescent plasma donors who have received the vaccine, in a matter of weeks,” Armitage said. “We are in the process of implementing brand new guidance from the FDA.”

As part of the nation’s 6th largest non-profit blood collector, Arkansas Blood Institute’s donors provide every drop of blood needed for patients in 40 hospitals. It takes nearly 1,200 donors a day to meet those needs.

Appointments to give blood are not required but can be made by calling Arkansas Blood Institute at 877-340-8777 or visiting yourbloodinstitute.org. Those who have recovered from COVID-19, have not received a COVID vaccine, and who are 14 days symptom free, may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma. Appointments to donate convalescent plasma can be made by calling 888-308-3924 or emailing coviddonor@obi.org.

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Arkansas Blood Institute is part of the 6th-largest independent blood center in the nation, providing lifesaving blood to 40 hospitals and medical facilities.

Bob Grant