COVID-19 and Blood Donation FAQs
Is it safe to donate blood during the Coronavirus outbreak?
Yes, blood donation is a safe and sterile procedure.
What protocols are in place to keep blood donation clinics safe?
Clinic staff have always maintained a high level of hand hygiene. All donors will need to sanitise their hands before entering a clinic and WCBS staff will conduct a COVID-19 screening with donors before proceeding to the next step. Staff wear compulsory personal protection equipment (PPE) such as facemasks. All donors will be required to wear a facemask. Staff monitoring the entrance of a clinic will wear both a visor and mask. Staff sanitise their hands regularly with soap and water in addition to using hand sanitiser before and after each encounter with a donor. Hand sanitiser and wet wipes are available for donors to use at each clinic.
Can COVID-19 be transfused in donated blood?
There is currently no reason to suspect that COVID-19 can be transmitted through blood transfusion. This is based on the fact that respiratory viruses, in general, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus.
Is donated blood tested for COVID-19?
No, the WCBS does not test for the Coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are feeling unwell or exhibiting any clinical symptoms of infection (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and shortness of breath), please seek medical attention or contact the NICD hotline on 0800 029 999.
Will someone with the Coronavirus symptoms still be allowed to donate?
No. Routine blood donor health assessment measures that are already in place will prevent individuals with clinical respiratory infections from donating blood. For example, all donors will need to complete a COVID-19 screening before continuing to donate. Blood donors must be in good health on the day of donation, and be negative for any risk factors surveyed by the COVID-19 screening and blood donor questionnaire.
Can I donate blood if I have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?
You have to wait 14 days after your last contact with a person diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 before donating blood again.
Can I donate blood if I’ve had COVID-19?
You have to wait 14 days after the resolution of your symptoms after a diagnosis of COVID-19 before donating blood again.
Can I donate after I received my COVID vaccine?
Yes, like international blood collection services, we are allowing people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to donate blood. You can donate blood after receiving your COVID vaccine, permitting you feel healthy on the day of donation and display no COVID symptoms.
We do not require blood donors to disclose that they have been vaccinated (if they have not done so in the last 30 days), nor do we record which vaccine they received. If you are a health-care worker working with COVID patients, you will need to wait 14 days after your vaccination before donating blood.
Is donated blood from people who had the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
We are confident that the currently approved vaccines do not pose a risk to the patient receiving the blood product, as they do not contain live virus and cannot transmit infection. Respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2 are also not known to be transmitted in blood transfusions from infected people. While we do realise that some people choose not to be vaccinated, it is important to note that the small amount of vaccine injected into a donor is significantly diluted in their bloodstream, which is further diluted in the bloodstream of the patient transfused with their blood product, so receiving a blood product from a vaccinated person is not equivalent to being vaccinated yourself.
The blood collection services in South Africa are dedicated to supplying the safest blood possible while maintaining a sufficient supply to meet the needs of our country. We watch international blood collection and transfusion policies very closely and act quickly if there is any concern regarding blood product safety and possible harm to the patient.
Will I know whether I am getting blood from someone who has had the vaccine in hospital?
No, this information is not printed on the blood product label so the hospital staff will not know this. Please note that you are entitled to refuse transfusions through the informed consent procedure in the unlikely event that you require a blood product and have concerns about the use of blood from vaccinated donors. There are other patient groups who decline transfusions (eg. Jehovah’s Witness followers) and receive adequate medical care.
What should I do if I am diagnosed with COVID-19 after donating blood?
Should you develop Coronavirus infection within 28 days of donating blood, please urgently contact the WCBS Medical Staff on (021) 507 6319, 507 6320, or 507 6329.
Should blood donors and WCBS staff wear face masks during blood donation?
All WCBS staff have been issued with facemasks to cover their nose and mouth and it will be compulsory for all staff to wear these masks at all times at work. All staff who are unable to maintain a physical distance of more than one metre from donors, for example when testing a donor’s haemoglobin level or inserting the needle, are required to wear a facemask and visor/safety goggles.
All donors will be required to wear facemasks when donating blood.