Blood donation and transfusion save lives. Unfortunately, there is also a long history of misinformation and fear surrounding donations. For example, there was a time when blood donation was separated by race. In addition, in response to the AIDS epidemic, rules were created banning donations from parts of the LGBTQIA community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the misinformation about blood donation has been about the vaccine and the virus itself. This misinformation does not cause the discriminatory practices of the past, but it does cause a large number of people to refuse blood transfusions.
Many people have heard that it is not safe to receive a blood transfusion from a vaccinated donor. Fortunately, this is not the case. A transfusion from a vaccinated donor carries no risk of infection and is completely safe. Read on to learn more about the safety of blood from vaccinated donors.
COVID-19 is an airborne virus. It cannot be transmitted by contact with the blood of an infected person. According to
Corresponding Vaccine against covid-19 is not transmitted from a blood donor to a person receiving a transfusion. Transfusion safety goes beyond the knowledge that COVID-19 is not transmitted through blood.
Two of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the Americas, the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, are a type of vaccine called a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). Inactivated vaccines do not contain live viral material. This means that the vaccines can teach your body to fight the infection, but they can not infect your bloodstream.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a type of vaccine called a viral vector vaccine.
A viral vector vaccine uses a modified and harmless version of a virus. You cannot get COVID-19 from the modified version of the COVID-19 virus in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine has enough viral material to teach your body how to fight COVID-19, but it has been modified enough that it will not cause an infection.
Blood contains red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood that is left after the platelets and the red and white blood cells are removed.
Plasma is 90 percent water, but it also contains the system’s proteins and antibodies. This includes the antibodies your body produces when it learns to fight a virus like COVID-19.
You need plasma to clot blood, fight infections, heal wounds and more. Plasma transfusions are used during surgeries and medical treatments. They can help people with chronic illnesses as well as people with burns, shock or trauma.
During the pandemic, blood donation centers collected plasma from individuals who had recovered from COVID-19 or who had received the vaccine within the last 6 months. This blood was used for what is called a convalescent blood transfusion.
This type of transfusion uses the proteins of the immune system, or antibodies, from a person whose body has already fought an infection, to help a person who is currently fighting the same infection. Transfusions from vaccinated individuals who meet certain conditions may also be used.
Now that vaccinations and improved treatments for COVID-19 are available, the Red Cross and other organizations are no longer seeking plasma for convalescent transfusions. However, vaccinated individuals are eligible to donate plasma.
Most blood donation centers only require that vaccinated individuals be symptom-free on the day of their donation. You can read more about plasma donation here.
Blood donations are already undergoing strict safety measures. Before each donation, donors are asked about their health to ensure that they are eligible to donate.
There are a number of health conditions and circumstances that will cause most blood donation centers to decline a donation. For example, you can generally not donate blood if:
- you have an active infection
- you have any kind of hepatitis or living with someone who does
- you have ever had or ever been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- you have been treated for malaria within the last 3 years or have been exposed to malaria within the last 3 months
- you have traveled to specific countries or territories recently
- you are taking certain medicines
- you recently got a tattoo
- you have certain viral conditions
These rules help blood donation centers keep blood safe before blood sampling begins.
Blood donations from those who have received live vaccines
Blood donation centers also have rules about vaccines. People who have recently received live vaccines often have to wait several weeks before they are eligible to donate blood. Common live vaccines include:
Blood donations from those who have received inactivated vaccines
Vaccines such as the COVID-19 vaccine are inactivated viral vaccines. These vaccines do not contain live viruses and can not transmit infections. Therefore, there are no restrictions on blood donation following these vaccines.
Other inactivated viruses include:
Ensuring security after donation
After each donation, the blood is tested to determine the type and sorted into red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma. A sample of your blood is also tested for infectious diseases that can be transmitted by blood contact. These usually include:
Any blood that is found to contain traces of these viruses will be discarded.
Can blood from a vaccinated donor or a person who has had COVID-19 confer immunity?
The COVID-19 vaccine is not transmitted during a blood donation. A blood donation is not an effective way to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The blood you receive during a transfusion contains only red blood cells. Red blood cells contain no antibodies.
The antibodies your body produces that know how to fight COVID-19 after a vaccine are placed in plasma. This means that you will need a plasma transfusion to receive COVID-19-fighting antibodies.
However, even a plasma transfusion is not a substitute for your own COVID-19 vaccine. Plasma transfusions are sometimes used to control COVID-19, but they are not intended to be used as a preventative measure.
The antibodies from blood transfusions or plasma transfusions from a vaccinated donor are not sufficient to confer COVID-19 immunity.
Is it OK to donate blood if you have been vaccinated? How long do I have to wait before donating?
Yes. You can donate blood if you have been vaccinated. There is no waiting time.
Some donation centers ask that you know who made the vaccine you received. In the United States, all vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna. The name of your vaccine manufacturer is on your vaccine card.
Is it OK to donate blood if I have had a COVID-19 infection? How long do I have to wait before donating?
Yes. You can donate after you recover from a COVID-19 infection.
It is a good idea to call the blood donation center and ask what their specific policy is. The American Red Cross requires that all donors have been symptom-free for at least 2 weeks prior to donation.
Are blood donation centers testing donors for COVID-19?
No. However, blood donation centers will ask donors about their health and any current symptoms before accepting a donation. In addition, donors will have their blood pressure, heart rate and temperature taken before a donation.
Any donor who shows signs of infection or disease will not be allowed to donate blood.
Do I want to know if I get blood from someone who has received the vaccine?
No. Blood from donors who have been vaccinated is not labeled. You do not want to know if the blood you receive during a transfusion is from a vaccinated donor.
It is safe to receive a blood transfusion from a donor who has been vaccinated for COVID-19. There is no risk of getting COVID-19 by a blood transfusion.
COVID-19 is not transmitted by blood contact and the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any live virus components. It can not cause infection in the vaccine recipient or in a blood transfusion recipient.
All donated blood is carefully tested for infectious viral material that can be transmitted by blood contact before being used for transfusions.