COVID-19 vaccinations creating confusion for Oklahoma blood donors

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Blood Institute says the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations has created some confusion for donors on their eligibility to give blood.  

Dr. John Armitage, President and CEO of OBI, wants Oklahomans to know that regardless of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, donors are still eligible to give whole blood and platelets.  

“We’ve got multiple vaccines, multiple shots with multiple vaccines, new vaccines, so it’s confusing. The current two that are out, Pfizer and Moderna, have no bearing on whether or not you can give our traditional blood products, the whole blood or platelets,” said Armitage.  

Armitage says the FDA has greenlighted blood donors who have been vaccinated and says as long as they’re feeling well, they could even give blood the same day as their vaccine.

He says if you are not feeling well, you need to wait until you feel like you’re back to 100%.

The only restrictions currently are for those who have recovered from COVID-19 and wish to donate convalescent plasma.  

“If you’ve had COVID and no vaccine, then we want to hear from you same as always. The kind of wrinkle in here is that if you’ve had COVID and you get a vaccine, which part of the booster concept around vaccines, right now we cannot take you as a convalescent plasma donor,” said Armitage.  

Armitage says the reason for this is because doctors worry plasma from donors who have received the vaccine may not be strong enough to help patients suffering from the virus.

He says blood with antibodies from an infection is more effective than blood with antibodies from a vaccine.

“We don’t want to give a placebo when somebody thinks they’re getting the real dose. That would be terrible,” he said.  

There is good news for those who still want to give but are currently ineligible.

Armitage says their opportunity could soon be coming. The FDA has made pathways for those who have received the vaccine to still give.  

“If right now you’ve had COVID, you’ve had your shot and we’re saying you can’t give, that’s only temporary,” said Armitage.  

OBI wants donors to continue giving blood or platelets regardless of the vaccination and says donations are needed now just as much as ever.  

“We’re blessed in this part of the world to have very generous donors, we even have a name: Oklahoma Standard for how generous we are helping our neighbors,” said Armitage.  

KFOR will continue to follow updates with the OBI and share when changes occur.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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