As flu season kicks off this October, the American Red Cross wants to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients by encouraging healthy donors to take the time to roll up a sleeve and give. Donors who are healthy and feeling well are asked to schedule donation appointments and invite others to do the same.
Despite seasonal illnesses, the need for blood remains constant. Review important tips and information about blood donation and influenza to help determine if it is the right time to give.
If you have the flu
Individuals who are not feeling well on the day of donation will be deferred from giving blood. Those who have the flu should wait until they no longer have flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. Blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.
If you have received a flu shot
Individuals can donate blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if they are symptom-free and meet all other eligibility requirements. Neither the flu shot nor the intranasal vaccine is cause for a blood donation deferral, because there is no risk of transmitting influenza after receiving the vaccines.
Helping prevent the spread of the flu
Red Cross staff members take standard precautions to prevent the spread of the flu at blood drives. These steps include frequent hand washing, cough etiquette, receiving influenza vaccination and appropriate management of ill staff members to minimize potential exposure.
Individuals can find more information about preventing the flu on redcross.org, as well as receive guidance on the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How to donate
To schedule an appointment to give, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make, cancel or re-schedule a blood donation appointment. The free Blood Donor App can be found in app stores by searching for American Red Cross.
Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Platelets can be given every seven days – up to 24 times a year. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most 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.