As temperatures cool for much of the country, and cold and flu season arrives, the American Red Cross is sharing this important reminder, that it’s okay to give blood after getting a vaccination for flu, COVID-19 or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
While receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccine has become a regular part of flu season for many, the RSV vaccine 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), the upcoming fall and winter are expected to see similar infection and hospitalization numbers as last year for influenza, RSV and COVID-19. Based on trends, some areas could see higher numbers than last year. With an increase in flu cases already being seen in some communities, more healthy individuals will be needed to roll up a sleeve to donate.
The Red Cross continues to suffer from a national blood shortage as donations have not kept up with hospital demand and patient needs this fall. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion, and when supplies are low, it can take weeks to rebuild the national inventory.
The Red Cross encourages individuals to protect their own health this cold-season by receiving a vaccination for flu, COVID-19 or RSV. It’s important to know that receiving any of these vaccines causes no wait period to donate and does not affect donation eligibility, as long as you are healthy, feeling well and symptom free at the time of donation.
“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,” said Dr. Baia Lasky for the American Red Cross.
For those who come to donate now through Oct. 20, the Red Cross will say thank you through a $15 Amazon.com Gift Card by email. 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).
For those that have a respiratory illness, it is important to wait until they no longer exhibit symptoms, have recovered completely, and feel well before attempting to donate.