Despite blood donations continuing since the COVID-19 pandemic began, claims that vaccinated people are not allowed to donate blood plasma are continuing to circulate on social media.
The claim is false. American, Australian and New Zealand blood donor organisations all state that blood plasma donations are allowed if you’ve been vaccinated.
A New Zealand Instagram account shared the claim, circulating an American tweet dating back to 2021 which claims, “The Red Cross won’t accept plasma donations from people who have had the Covid vaccine”.
The author of the tweet continues: “You’re willing to put something in your body that is so untested that the FDA and Red Cross don’t know if you can donate Plasma, yet me not wanting to take it makes me irresponsible?”
Plasma is the liquid portion of blood which makes up about 55 percent of blood according to the American Red Cross Blood Services. It is used to treat a variety of diseases and urgent medical conditions.
The original tweet refers to the American Red Cross, while in New Zealand the New Zealand Blood Service manages blood donations, and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood does the same in that country.
All three organisations said the claim that COVID-vaccinated individuals cannot donate is wrong.
The American Red Cross says on its website that people can donate blood, platelets and plasma “after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, as long as you are symptom-free and feeling well at the time of the donation”.
For a period during 2020 and 2021, the American Red Cross collected convalescent plasma – plasma from people recovering from COVID-19 – as a treatment for people suffering the infection. The Red Cross did not allow vaccinated people to donate convalescent plasma, as reported in US media at the time.
The Instagram post and original tweet both show an old statement from the Red Cross about convalescent plasma in small type at the bottom.
In that February 2021 statement, the American Red Cross said “Individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not able to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross.”
A screenshot of the statement as it appears in the posts is available on a meme website.
The US Food and Drug Administration had said in guidance in February 2021 that “COVID-19 convalescent plasma should not be collected from people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have had COVID-19 in the past six months and received the vaccine after they were diagnosed with COVID-19.”
However, by June 2021 the American Red Cross announced it was no longer collecting convalescent plasma due to declining demand and sufficient stockpiles.
In December, 2021 The World Health Organisation revised its recommendations for use of convalescent plasma, recommending it only be used in clinical trials for severe and critical patients. And in 2022, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association described it as a treatment that had fallen out of favour.
A spokesperson for Australian Red Cross Lifeblood told AAP FactCheck that “Lifeblood accepts blood, platelet and plasma donations from 3 days after any of the TGA approved COVID-19 vaccines”.
The spokesperson said Australian guidelines do not recommend convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients and the treatment is not available in Australia.
A spokesperson for the New Zealand Blood Service referred AAP FactCheck to the organisation’s guidelines, which state that blood and plasma are accepted from “all donors who meet our donor eligibility criteria, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status”.
In regards to convalescent plasma, New Zealand Blood Service said the demand is small and donations of convalescent plasma are not being accepted.
The claim that the Red Cross does not accept plasma donations from people who have had the COVID vaccine is false.
American, New Zealand and Australian blood donation groups have all confirmed that plasma donations can be made by people regardless of their vaccination status.
In the United States, the American Red Cross did restrict convalescent plasma donations over vaccination status for a brief period, but those affected were still able to donate other blood products.
False – The claim is inaccurate.