Kitchener-Waterloo

Canadian Blood Services welcomes unvaccinated donors

The Canadian Blood Services says it has received many questions from people wondering if they can donate blood if they haven't been fully vaccinated.
A donor gives blood at a Canadian Blood Services clinic. (Trish Smith/Canadian Blood Services)

Canadian Blood Services is encouraging people to donate blood, even if they haven't been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Gina Leyva, the territory manager at Canadian Blood Services for Waterloo region, says her team has received a lot of questions from people asking whether they can donate blood if they are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. 

The short answer is "yes, they can," said Leyva.

While Ontario now requires people to show proof of vaccination to access some non-essential businesses, such proof is not required to enter a blood donor clinic.

On its website, Canada Blood Services notes that the novel coronavirus is a respiratory virus. 

Dr. Steven Drews, associate director of microbiology at Canadian Blood Services, said in a March 2020 statement that there is "absolutely no evidence of [blood] transfusion transmission for COVID-19, or any other coronavirus," including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and other influenza viruses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also says on its website that "respiratory viruses are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus."

Canadian Blood Services noted while it's not necessary to be vaccinated, they do encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and that workers and volunteers at clinics are vaccinated.

When a person is vaccinated against COVID-19 also has no impact at all on a person's ability to donate, Leyva said. 

"There is no deferral period or wait period after having the vaccination," said Leyva. "If you have a vaccination today, you can donate today. Tomorrow? There's no waiting period."

Drop in donations

Canadian Blood Services hopes people will extend an arm this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Clinics are open for blood donations on Saturday and Monday.

Leyva says it is common for donations to drop at this time of year, but this year has been even more trying, as hospitals have resumed elective surgeries but many blood donation appointments have gone unfilled as people aren't booking times to donate blood.

In a report in May, Canadian Blood Services reported a large drop in donors attending clinics during the pandemic. Early in the pandemic, just 58 per cent of appointment spots were filled. That rose to 79 per cent by December 2020, but the report noted some parts of the country were more impacted more than others.

This week, there are 150 appointment slots available at the KW Donor Centre on 94 Bridgeport Rd E. in Waterloo. The clinic on Saturday runs from 8 a.m to 1 p.m and the Thanksgiving Monday clinic is open from 2 p.m to 7 p.m.

You can book and appointment and find clinics across Canada by visiting the Canadian Blood Services website. Inputting your postal code will display the nearest clinic to you. 

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