Donating blood is a way to give back to your community that can make a massive difference in someone's life. According to the New York Times, U.S. blood banks are experiencing their biggest shortage in a decade. This is partially due to the fact that there are many misconceptions around donating blood in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we will address some of the biggest myths surrounding the topic.

Donating blood is still possible

Many people might think that donating blood is not even possible because of the restrictions around hospitals. While there is some truth to this, there are still ways to give. There are different organizations that offer available locations where you can schedule an appointment to donate. Here are some examples:

  • Red Cross: The Red Cross has a website where you can enter your zip code and find a blood drive near you.
  • Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies: This link will help you find a permanent location near where you live.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Passing the requirements is simple

Some people are nervous to donate because they are unsure if they qualify to do so. Here are the qualifications for whole blood donations according to Red Cross:

  • Be at least 17 years old.
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs.
  • Not be on the following medications according to blood
  • Accutane.
  • Antibiotics *Donors who are taking antibiotics are eligible to donate 24 hours after their last dose.
  • Antiplatelet Medications.
  • Blood thinners (such as Coumadin, Heparin, Lovenox, Warfarin).
  • Bovine insulin.
  • Hepatitis B Immune Globulin.
  • Human-derived growth hormones.
  • Find the full list on blood

Please note that all people who have taken a licensed vaccine, for COVID-19 or otherwise, are able to donate blood. The American Red Cross says that there is no deferral time for the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, Janssen/J&J, Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer. 

Those who have had the virus can donate

A major myth that we want to bust today is that those who have had the virus can't donate their blood. This is absolutely not true. The FDA recommends that "individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are suspected of having COVID-19, and who had symptomatic disease, refrain from donating blood for at least 10 days after complete resolution of symptoms."

This means that, even if you have had the virus, you are still eligible to donate blood to those who may need it as long as the donation happens at least 10 days after the symptoms have gone away. COVID-19 can not be transferred through a blood transfusion according to the FDA. Their website reported, on January 11, 2022, that "there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus, including SARS-CoV-2, worldwide."

Taking precautionary measures is important

While there are important precautionary measures to take in order to prevent COVID-19, blood donation is still necessary and possible. Here are some of the most important things that the Stanford
Donation Center is doing to maintain a safe blood donation environment, for example:

  • Appointments are necessary.
  • Equipment is sterilized, and most is single-use only.
  • Hand sanitizers are placed throughout donation sites.
  • Increased spacing between donors.
  • Team members wear face masks while interacting with donors during the entire donation process.
  • Team members at collection sites are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Because blood donations had previously relied heavily on mobile drives on college campuses and high schools, the pandemic has severely impacted donation levels. Find a location near you and learn more about donating today.