The American Red Cross doesn’t prevent people vaccinated against COVID-19 from donating blood, contrary to rehashed viral claim

COVID-19 vaccine recipients might not be eligible for blood donation
Lack of context: COVID-19 vaccine recipients are subject to the same blood donation guidelines as those who received other vaccines. A deferral of two weeks is only necessary in people who receive a vaccine containing a live, weakened virus, which isn’t the case with any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S.
Inadequate support: Contrary to what the posts implied, no evidence suggests that the blood from COVID-19-vaccinated people is unsafe to use.
The blood from a person vaccinated against COVID-19 isn’t less safe than that of someone who received another vaccine or that of an unvaccinated person. The American Red Cross doesn’t establish special requirements for people who received a COVID-19 vaccine and wish to donate blood. As a general requirement, when people receive a vaccine containing a live, weakened virus, they are recommended to wait two weeks after vaccination to donate blood. However, no such COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized in the U.S., so deferral doesn’t apply to COVID-19 vaccine recipients.

FULL CLAIM: “The American Red Cross is now asking blood donors if they ever received the Covid vaccine. If you answer Yes, they want you to call ahead to see if you’re still eligible. I thought the vax was ‘safe and effective’?”


In mid-February 2024, posts started circulating on social media claiming that the American Red Cross was warning potential blood donors to check their eligibility if they’d received a COVID-19 vaccine. Some asked, “I thought the vax was ‘safe and effective’?” implying that the Red Cross information was evidence that the blood of COVID-19 vaccine recipients was somehow unsafe to use.

The claim spread rapidly on Instagram, TikTok, and particularly on X/Twitter, aided by two tweets by the anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, which received over six million views together.

Possibly related to this trend is a phone call published by commentator Steven Crowder on X/Twitter on 21 February 2024 that was viewed more than a million times. In it, an “undercover journalist” talked to the Red Cross information line. The employee explained that the Red Cross doesn’t separate blood donations based on vaccination status; a person who wants to exclude vaccinated blood would need to bank personal donations. The idea of separating the blood from COVID-19-vaccinated and unvaccinated donors could be a dog whistle for those believing the conspiracy theory that the vaccinated blood is tainted or not “pure”.

As we will show below, these posts are misleading. The Red Cross doesn’t have special requirements for blood donors who received a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the implied claim that their blood might be unsafe to use in transfusion isn’t supported by scientific evidence.

Similar claims involving the Red Cross circulated previously in 2021. They alleged that people vaccinated against COVID-19 couldn’t donate blood or convalescent plasma, a blood product obtained from people who just recovered from an infection. This plasma—the liquid part of the blood that remains after removing the cells—is rich in antibodies that the person developed during the infection and can be used to treat infectious diseases when no other treatment options are available.

Health Feedback and other fact-checking organizations explained that the Red Cross not only accepted but actually encouraged blood and plasma donations from COVID-19 vaccine recipients. While the organization did stop collecting convalescent plasma, it was because there was sufficient supply, rather than due to safety or effectiveness concerns.

These claims are all rooted in the idea that the COVID-19 vaccines somehow “taint” the blood of the people who receive them, making it unsafe. However, this idea is unsupported and misleading.

In January 2023, the Association for the Advancement of Blood and Biotherapies, America’s Blood Centers, and the American Red Cross issued a joint statement assuring the public that “Blood donations from individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine approved or authorized for use in the U.S. are safe for transfusion”. They added:

“[T]here is no scientific evidence that demonstrates adverse outcomes from the transfusions of blood products collected from vaccinated donors and, therefore, no medical reason to distinguish or separate blood donations from individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.”

It is curious that the new claims about blood donation eligibility in people who received a COVID-19 vaccine presented these eligibility requirements as new when they aren’t. This archived version of the organization’s site shows that the eligibility information for blood donors who received a COVID-19 vaccine has been available since January 2021 and hasn’t substantially changed since.

When reading the Red Cross’ information, one soon realizes that the eligibility guidelines for blood donors who are vaccinated against COVID-19 aren’t limited to COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, they refer to the general guidelines for vaccinated people, which recommend that people who receive a live-attenuated vaccine wait two weeks before donating blood. The Red Cross site explicitly states that no restriction applies to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use:

“There is no deferral time for eligible blood donors who are vaccinated with an inactivated or RNA based COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, Janssen/J&J, Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer.

Eligible blood donors who received a live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine or do not know what type of COVID-19 vaccine they received must wait two weeks before giving blood.”

However, no live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or listed by the World Health Organization for emergency use. The Red Cross possibly included this information preemptively, considering that new vaccines, some containing live-attenuated viruses, might be available in the near future.

Finally, the Red Cross recommends that people who have had a COVID-19 diagnosis or have COVID-19 symptoms postpone their blood donation for ten days. This deferral is also unrelated to vaccination.

In short, the Red Cross guidelines for blood donors who received a COVID-19 vaccine haven’t changed and don’t target COVID-19 vaccines specifically. In fact, no restrictions apply to currently available COVID-19 vaccines. So contrary to what the posts implied, nothing in the Red Cross recommendations suggests a safety issue with the blood of COVID-19 vaccine recipients.


Published on: 23 Feb 2024 | Editor:

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