The United States is facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade. The shortage is largely due to challenges faced during the coronavirus pandemic, including ongoing blood drive cancellations, staffing limitations and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the American Red Cross.
After VERIFY reported that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can donate blood, we received more questions from our viewers about blood donation. Two of the most popular questions in our inbox were: “Do blood donation centers sort blood by vaccination status?” and “Are blood donation centers making sure they don’t put vaccinated blood in someone who doesn’t want to be vaccinated?”
The VERIFY team looked into how the blood donation process works during the pandemic.
Do blood donation centers sort blood by COVID-19 vaccination status?
No, blood donation centers do not sort blood by COVID-19 vaccination status.
WHAT WE FOUND
Dr. Yvette Miller, who serves as the executive medical officer for the American Red Cross, says blood donation centers do not sort blood by a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status.
“At the American Red Cross, we don't separate blood into vaccinated/unvaccinated, and I don't think any blood collection organization in this country does that,” Miller told VERIFY.
Kate Fry, the CEO at America’s Blood Centers, agrees.
“Blood donations are not classified by a donor’s vaccination status given the absence of risk for transmitting COVID-19 or possible vaccine side effects,” said Fry.
Because blood donation centers don’t separate blood by vaccination status, people receiving blood transfusions from donated blood wouldn’t be able to choose whether the donor was not vaccinated against COVID-19.
First, blood donation centers don’t give blood transfusions — hospitals and treatment centers do. After a person donates blood at a center or during a blood drive, workers do not label the donation by a person’s vaccination status, according to Miller.
“I have certainly had donors call the American Red Cross and ask these questions,” Miller told VERIFY. “For example, one donor said, ‘I'm getting ready to go to the hospital and I'm going to need a transfusion and I want to be transfused with blood from someone who had not been vaccinated.’ And that's not possible. We don't label the blood with the donor’s vaccination status.”
Meanwhile, Fry says if an unvaccinated person receives blood from someone who is vaccinated, they aren’t considered vaccinated nor are they at risk of experiencing any vaccine-related side effects.
“Although the COVID-19 vaccines are designed to generate an immune response in the person that receives it, vaccine components are not present in the blood collected from vaccinated donors. Thus, patients receiving a blood transfusion are not at risk of acquiring COVID-19 or any possible vaccine side-effects from a vaccinated blood donor,” said Fry.
The American Red Cross details the blood donation process from beginning to end on its website.
More from VERIFY: No, you don’t have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to donate blood