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Thinking of giving blood? Here’s why they’ll ask about your vaccination status

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:19 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2021 at 6:34 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As Lowcountry blood services navigate a blood shortage, they are also fielding questions about blood donations from those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Blood Connection spokesperson Heather Moulder says the group is in critical need of blood and says one’s vaccination status does not affect your ability to donate. Moulder says they are asking donors to provide their vaccination status and the brand of vaccine they received, but this is only to make sure donors received one of the vaccines approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization.

“We have heard a lot of concern about unvaccinated people receiving blood of those that are vaccinated, and they may have some preferences to not,” Moulder said. “However, we are governed by the FDA and we have not received any guidance from the FDA around making sure that that doesn’t happen.”

She says they are not tagging the blood as vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Moulder says now is the time to donate blood if you can, because their inventory is depleted, and they are worried this could soon impact hospitals.

To keep the shelves stocked, Moulder says they need 800 units per day across their coverage area. She says if all eligible people donated blood twice a year, they would likely not be in this critical need.

Red Cross concerned about emergency blood shortage

The South Carolina Red Cross says an emergency blood shortage could begin to affect approximately 30 Lowcountry hospitals that depend on them for their blood supply.

Red Cross spokesperson Mandy McWherter says they are doing everything they can to ensure hospitals get what they need but that hospital orders are outpacing donations.

“When there’s a shortage and we’re unable to meet hospital needs, that’s obviously a huge problem for patients that county on those,” McWherter says. “So there could be delays in patient care and that’s the last thing we want to see. So we’re asking all eligible donors to come out and give.”

McWherter says the Red Cross has seen a decline of 10 percent in donations in just the last few weeks, bringing them to the lowest their blood supply has been in more than six years at this time of year.

The South Carolina Red Cross is offering extra incentives for those who give blood with two $5 gift cards every time you come in.

The easiest way to find a location to donate near you is to use the service’s online locator tool.

McWherter says one trauma patient, a car accident or shooting victim, for instance, could need up to 40 units of blood.

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