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Both frontline workers and the general public are not just dealing with covid-19, but there’s another problem that is giving everyone sleepless nights, i.e; shortage of blood. Due to covid-19, there have been hardly any blood donation camps, and that’s why there’s a huge dip in the supply. And now when the vaccination drive is underway, there’s another question that’s hovering over the minds of many – can they donate blood post-covid vaccination?
There are numerous questions that remain unanswered about the feasibility of blood donation and today we have Dr Abhijit Baheti, general medicine and haematologist from Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune, who will answer them all for you.
According to the fresh guidelines released by the expert committee set up by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC), people can donate blood 14 days after taking a covid-19 vaccine. Earlier, there was a directive to donate blood only after 28 days after each dose, which was highly questionable. The decision came right after vaccination was opened up for people in the age group of 18-44. This group has the maximum number of eligible blood donors.
“The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for covid-19 (NEGVAC) in its fresh recommendations said that an individual can donate blood after 14 days of either receipt of covid-19 vaccine or testing RT-PCR negative, if suffering from covid-19 disease,” says Dr Baheti.
A precautionary deferral period of up to seven days is usually considered to minimize the impact of call-backs from donors who develop symptoms subsequent to donating soon after vaccination. Therefore, it is best to follow the deferral guideline.
Until now, SARS-CoV-2 infection testing via RT-PCR has not been recommended by the NBTC. That’s because it has been found that transfusion-associated with covid-19 is very rare. However, if a person is experiencing fever or sore throat in the past one or two weeks, he needs to report it before going for blood donation.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, blood donation or the blood transfusion process does not put you at a high risk of contracting covid-19 infection. That’s because it is known that most respiratory viruses cannot be transmitted by donation or transfusion.
“It is highly recommended that all donors must take universal precautions like social distancing measures, wearing masks, and proper hand sanitisation during donation. Special protocols have also been established to ensure the blood donation site is safe for the purpose. The guidelines underline the role of social distancing at the blood donation site, along with other infection control measures such as avoiding close contact with any confirmed or suspected case of covid-19, cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and safe disposal of used gloves, masks, caps, and other soiled material,” recommends Dr Baheti.
In case when there are no blood donation camps happening, an eligible donor can walk in voluntarily to donate blood at a licensed blood bank any time at their own convenience.
According to the guidelines laid by the Indian government, a covid-19 patient can only donate after the 14-day deferral or after testing negative in the RT-PCR test. It is best that you speak with a doctor in case of any doubt.