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People who received COVID-19 vaccine can still donate blood or platelets, health official says

Blood donations are low this time of year

South Texas Blood and Tissue Center
South Texas Blood and Tissue Center

SAN ANTONIO – People who have been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine during its massive, nation-wide rollout can still donate blood and platelets, according to health officials.

Dr. Rachel Beddard, the chief medical officer for the San Antonio-based BioBridge Global, said those who received the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna can donate “without delay.” BioBridge Global is a nonprofit organization that includes the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

Beddard said the COVID-19 vaccines are not made from the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, mRNA vaccines build an immune response by teaching cells how to create protein or a piece of protein, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“mRNA vaccines are a whole new way to protect against diseases,” Beddard said. “This is good news for donors.”

“The key to any vaccine is to create that immune response, which produces antibodies, since the antibodies are what prevent infections. These vaccines cause that response.”

She urged people to donate blood or platelets during a time when organizations typically see a dip in the number of donors.

Generally, after other vaccinations, people are asked to delay blood donations, according to guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration. Because the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines, the deferral period does not apply in this instance.

However, the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is expected to gain approval in the U.K. this week, does have an inactivated germ of the virus, according to the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center.

In that case, people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine would have to wait two weeks before donating blood, if and when it becomes available in the U.S.

The U.S. has approved two COVID-19 vaccines, one from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and the other from Moderna. The government has already begun shipping the two-shot vaccines for frontline workers and long-term care residents and staff.

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