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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

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UPDATED 10-12-21
BLOOD DONATION DEFERRAL INFORMATION IN RELATION TO COVID-19

  • We are temporarily deferring donors that have traveled outside the U.S. in the last 10 days. Travel to Baja, Mexico is acceptable.  
  • If donors cared for, lived with or otherwise have had close contact with an individual(s) diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 infection, they are deferred for 28 days (4 weeks) from the last date of exposure with the individual(s). Healthcare workersplease review our vaccine FAQs.
  • Donors who have been diagnosed with or are suspected having COVID-19 are deferred for 4 weeks from the date the symptoms resolved.
  • People experiencing coronavirus symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, should not attempt to donate.
  • The following COVID-19 vaccines are permitted without a deferral period: AstraZeneca, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer. If you are unsure of the name of the COVID-19 vaccine or it is not listed, you will be deferred from donation for 14 days.
  • Can I donate blood if I'm unvaccinated against COVID-19? Eligible donors can donate blood regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Do I need an appointment? 
In order to ensure proper staffing at our locations, appointments are strongly encouraged.

Do I have to wear a mask or face covering when I donate blood? 
Yes. As of July 28, 2021, based on CDC’s latest guidance, San Diego Blood Bank will require staff, volunteers, donors, vendors, contractors, and visitors to wear a face covering*, whether they have been vaccinated or not, prior to entering our facilities/mobiles and while donating blood.

*“Face covering” means a surgical mask or a tightly woven fabric or non-woven  material of at least two layers. A face covering has no visible holes or openings and must cover the nose and mouth. A face covering does not include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck, collar, or single layer of fabric.

Why did the mask policy change?
As of July 28, 2021, the level of community transmission in San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and Orange County is rated “high” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others. To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, CDC has updated their guidance for fully vaccinated people recommending wearing face coverings in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.

What safety measures are in place?
Donor and staff safety is of the utmost importance. We currently have several measures in place.  

Current procedures:   

  • Effective July 28, 2021, San Diego Blood Bank will require staff, volunteers, donors, vendors, contractors, and visitors to wear a face covering, whether they have been vaccinated or not, prior to entering our facilities/mobiles and while donating blood.
  • Reducing the volume of people gathering at any one time.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting donor screening tools, such as clipboards and pens.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting educational material sheet protectors.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting hand grippers.
  • Screening donors for upper respiratory symptoms (such as, but not limited to: coughing, shortness of breath) and taking temperatures prior to entering donor center or mobile.
  • Screening staff for upper respiratory symptoms (such as, but not limited to: coughing, shortness of breath) and taking temperatures of staff who interact with donors at the beginning of each shift
  • Posting the County of San Diego Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol.
  • Posting notices and screening donors if in the past 28 days: they have traveled outside of the United States and/or California, including cruise/river cruise; have been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19; or cared for, lived with or otherwise had close contact with an individual(s) diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Following good hygiene practices, including wearing gloves and use of hand sanitizer before and after each donation.
  • Protecting supplies in the canteen area by limiting donor access to the supply of snacks and drinks.

When can I donate blood if I got the vaccine?  
The following COVID-19 vaccines are permitted without a deferral period: AstraZeneca, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer. If you are unsure of the name of the COVID-19 vaccine or it is not listed, you will be deferred from donation for 14 days. Click here to learn more about donating after COVID-19 vaccination.

Can I donate blood if I'm unvaccinated against COVID-19?
Eligible donors can donate blood regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Can I donate blood if I’m a healthcare worker who received the vaccine? 
Healthcare workers who have NOT had close contact with a known or suspected COVID-19 patient can donate blood.     

For healthcare workers in close contact with COVID-19 patients, you can donate if: 

  • You have had one of the following COVID-19 vaccines: AstraZeneca, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer.
  • Worn full PPE, including an N95 mask, and have had no breaches in PPE in the past 28 days.
  • Meet all standard blood donation eligibility requirements. 

Can I donate convalescent plasma if I receive the vaccine?
You are eligible to donate convalescent plasma after receiving a vaccine if:  

  • You received the AstraZeneca, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax or Pfizer vaccine AFTER being diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • ​You had symptoms of COVID-19 and a positive diagnostic COVID-19 PCR test result and can provide a copy of those test results. Symptoms vary but could include, shortness of breath, cough, fever or chills, fatigue, headache, loss of smell/taste, nausea, diarrhea and body aches. Asymptomatic individuals are ineligible to donate convalescent plasma after receiving the vaccine.  

Please note: 

  • If you are unsure of the name of the COVID-19 vaccine you received or if it is not listed above, you will be deferred from donation for 14 days.  
  • You are eligible to donate convalescent plasma if you received the COVID-19 vaccine after diagnosis of COVID-19 and are within 6 months after complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms.  If you are still experiencing loss of taste and smell, you may still be eligible to donate.  
  • If you receive a vaccine then subsequently test positive for antibodies after donation at SDBB, that does not qualify you to donate convalescent plasma. 
  • If you are interested in donating convalescent plasma after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination and/or have further questions, please call (619) 400-8182

Please sign up at SanDiegoBloodBank.org/donateplasma.    

If I donate blood, will I be able to fight an infection later?
There is no research evidence that donating blood affects your ability to fight infection later. While white blood cells needed to fight infection slightly decrease after donation, abundant cells remain in the event of an infection. Furthermore, donated cells are regenerated post-donation.   

Are recipients at risk of contracting COVID-19 through donated blood?
There is no known risk of contracting COVID-19 from blood transfusions. Respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported or suspected cases of transfusion transmission of this virus. Routine blood donor screening measures that are already in place should prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood. For example, blood donors must be in good health and have a normal temperature on the day of donation  

Can I get COVID-19 by donating blood? 
There is no inherent risk of getting COVID-19/coronavirus from donating blood. No measures can completely eliminate the risk of exposure; however, we have high standards in place to eliminate risk of exposure as much as possible. 

Are you allowing for social distancing? 
Our donor centers have 6-foot distancing at all stations. Staff, of course, will be near you at a few points during the normal donation process. Mobiles do not currently afford 6’ distancing. However, we are screening donors and staff prior to entry onto the bus. We are also cleaning all surfaces between donations.  

What happens if someone donates without any symptoms and then becomes sick?  
COVID-19 is not known to be transmissible by transfusion. SDBB regularly tracks cold and flu symptoms after donation. If you are diagnosed with or are suspected of having COVID-19 infection within the next 28 days, please contact SDBB at (800) 469-7322

How else can I help?
Please consider volunteering to help ensure a healthy, safe and clean environment for our donors. Visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org/volunteers. You can also make a financial gift to support emergency preparedness such as freezer technology and critical supplies. Visit sandiegobloodbank.org/makeagift

Visit our blog, www.sandiegobloodbank.org/covid19.