This winter’s flu season has hit early and hard. The American Red Cross is seeing a lower-than-expected turnout at some scheduled blood drives because donors are unable to keep their appointments.
If you have any concerns about donating blood at this time, here are some important tips and information to help ease your mind.
If You Have the Flu
If you are not feeling well on the day of donation, you will be deferred from giving blood.
If you have the flu, you should wait until you no longer have flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before you attempt to donate. Blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.
If You’ve Just Received the Flu Vaccine
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.
Red Cross staff members take standard precautions to prevent the spread of the flu at blood drives, including frequent hand washing, cough etiquette, influenza vaccination, and appropriate management of ill staff members to minimize potential exposure.
How to Donate Blood
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 online to redcrossblood.org for more information and to make a blood donation appointment.