COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you don't have to wait to give blood.
This is a message being shared by The American Red Cross of South Carolina as the organization is experiencing a dip in donations.
Health experts say now is the time to give.
"We don't want to end up in a situation where we were a year ago when COVID had hit and we saw just an absolute dive of donations," said Ben Williamson, Communications Director for The Red Cross of South Carolina. "We got into a really critical place with the blood supply."
Last month, fewer people in South Carolina made appointments to give blood.
"We saw a decrease of anywhere between 10 and 15%," said Williamson. "It definitely has impacted our blood collections, not only in Columbia and the surrounding counties, but across the state."
Williamson noted, while this decrease may not be a direct result of more people getting vaccinated, it is happening as people are raising concerns.
"What we're hearing is, 'Well, if I give blood, that will affect the efficacy of the vaccine or that may impact my antibodies'," said Williamson.
We asked Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC's Interim Director of Public Health, if this is true.
"Donating blood is not going to cause somebody who has been vaccinated to lose their immunity," she explained.
Another question relayed to DHEC: Do you have to wait to donate blood after your shot?
Dr. Traxler says in most cases, no.
"There is no deferral time post-vaccine for blood donors if they have received any of the three vaccines: The Pfizer, the Moderna or the Janssen," said Traxler. "We encourage those who want to donate blood to go and do so and not wait."
Here are the only exceptions that require deferral time:
- If you received one of the early test vaccines used in clinical trials
- If you don't know the name of the vaccine you received
- If you experienced side effects from your shot
"To follow FDA guidelines, we have to ask that you are feeling healthy and well for at least 14 days before you make an appointment," said Williamson. "That's how it is always...You are eligible to give blood as long as you feel healthy and well."
If you're interested in giving the gift of life, there are three ways to donate with the American Red Cross:
- Visit redcrossblood.org
- Call 1-800-RED-CROSS
- Download the Red Cross Blood Donor App
Keep in mind, regardless of visitors' vaccination status, all COVID protective policies will remain in place at Red Cross blood drives for the foreseeable future.