BLOOD DONATIONS AND THE CORONAVIRUS

Are you a blood donor and do you have questions regarding the coronavirus and the precautions to be observed? Below, we answer all your questions.

THE COLLECTIONS ARE SAFE

We are putting extra safety measures in place (see question 2). So please do not stop coming out to donate blood. We need your blood, now more than ever!

I have been INFECTED WITH THE COVID 19 VIRUS

You are allowed to donate blood subject to certain conditions (see question "Am I allowed to donate blood if I’ve been infected with the coronavirus?").

WILL I BE SCREENED?

We are not screening for the coronavirus. There are no known cases whereby a respiratory infection is transmitted through the blood. Meanwhile, we are taking part in a study aimed at investigating the spread of the disease among the population at large (see below).

I have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of the vaccines available in Belgium

You will need to wait for 48 hours to come and donate blood if you are otherwise in good health.

You will need to wait for 7 days after the symptoms have disappeared, if you showed symptoms immediately after having received vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  

What contraindications are specific to the coronavirus?

 

In addition to the usual contraindications, new contraindications have come to light that are specific to the coronavirus.

 

WAIT FOR 17 DAYS IF:

 

•    If you have: 

1 major symptom: cough, difficulty breathing, thoracic pain, loss of taste and/or smell. fever

OR

2 minor symptoms: muscle pain, fatigue, common cold, sore throat, headaches, acute diarrhea, loss of appetite.

 

•    If you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed as being infected with the COVID 19: contact duration > 15 minutes, within a distance of less than 1.5 metres and without wearing a mask.

 

•    You have been diagnosed as COVID 19-positive. The 17-day period starts after the symptoms have disappeared and/or the treatment has ended. If you have been diagnosed as COVID-19-positive with no symptoms, the 17-day period starts from the date of the test.

 

•    After returning from (of at least 48 hours) a zone marked as « red ». The list of color codes by country is available online on the website Info-Coronavirus.be. This contraindication does not apply to cross-border residents or workers.  

 

 

WAIT FOR 24 DAYS IF: 

 

You are in constant contact with a person who has been confirmed as having COVID 19: someone living under your roof, your family and relatives … This 24-day period starts from the time your confirmed COVID-19 contact first started showing symptoms or from the date on which the test was performed in case your confirmed COVID-19 contact shows no symptoms.

 

If you have been vaccinated, please read the question below.

 

  • What I should look out for before coming out to the collection location?

     

    In addition to the usual contraindications, new contraindications have come to light that are specific to the coronavirus.

    Do not come out to the collection location / a blood donation centre and wait for 17 days: 

    •    If you have one or several of the following symptoms: infection of the upper and/or lower respiratory tracts (common cold, sore throat, sinus infection, ear infection, laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis, etc.), flu-like symptoms (aches, shivers, muscle and joint pain, headaches), acute gastroenteritis, fever > 38°C, difficulty breathing, aggravated chronic respiratory problems, dry cough, loss of taste and/or smell. 

    •    If you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed as being infected with the COVID 19: contact duration > 15 minutes, within a distance of less than 1.5 metres and without wearing a mask.

    •    You have been diagnosed as COVID 19-positive. The 17-day period starts after the symptoms have disappeared and/or the treatment has ended.

    •    After returning from (of at least 48 hours) an area marked as « red » or « orange ». The list of red and orange areas is available online on the Foreign Affairs website and updated daily : https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en 

     

  • I received an invitation to attend my regular collection. Is my collection going ahead?

     

    If you usually donate at a permanent blood collection centre, from now on you will need to make an online appointment (here).
    If you usually donate at a mobile collection point, there is no need to make a prior appointment (unless there is a link to sign up): come in at any time at the collection location. However, we strongly recommend that you check our Collection Rounds agenda to find out if your collection is going ahead.

     

  • Are the blood collections safe?

     

    Yes. In addition to the hygiene measures which are part and parcel of our normal procedures anyway, we have implemented specific additional  measures

    -    Observance of the social distancing rule of at least 1.5 metres
    -    Disinfection of small equipment and surfaces (tables, door handles, etc.)
    -    Compulsory hand washing for all people present 
    -    Mask is mandatory and staff is required to also wear gloves

    Outside the collection location, posters have been put up reiterating these precautionary measures 


     

  • Do I have to wear a mask?

     

    Yes. Face masks are mandatory, starting on May 4th. in order to ensure maximal safety for the health of donors and staff members. You should, preferably, use your own mask. If you don't have one, we will provide you with a single use mask

    Don't forget to respect physical distances and to apply barrier gestures such as handwashing. Those measures remain a priority in the battle against the pandemic.

     

  • Will I be screened for the coronavirus?

     

    No. We do not screen for the coronavirus. There are no known cases whereby a respiratory infection is transmitted through the blood. We do not perform screening tests by taking swabs.

     

  • Am I allowed to donate blood if I’ve been infected with the coronavirus?

     

    Yes, but only from 17 days after all the symptoms have disappeared and/or from 28 days after your treatment has ended.

     

  • I have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of the vaccines available in Belgium. Do I need to wait before I can come and donate blood?

    - You will need to wait for 48 hours to come and donate blood if you are otherwise in good health.
    - You will need to wait for 7 days after the symptoms have disappeared, if you showed symptoms immediately after having received vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

  • Do I need a Covid Safe Ticket to come and donate blood?

    No, you do not need the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to come and donate blood, plasma or platelets.
    The blood collections are organised in compliance with all public health measures. 
    We look forward to welcoming you!

  • Why am I not allowed to donate blood right after I have been vaccinated?

    This 2-day time span after you have been vaccinated acts as a kind of buffer period. If you come in to donate blood right after you have been given your jab and you are not feeling well or you are running a temperature, this means we are forced to destroy your donation as a precaution. The fact of the matter is we can never be 100% certain if this feverish condition is related to the vaccination or whether it is a sign of something else. Beyond this 2-day time span, it is not very likely that you would still experience any secondary effects from the vaccine. In doing so, we are driving down the number of lab test reports of blood samples that carry infections shortly after donation as well as the number of donations we are required to destroy as a precaution.  
    The 7-day time span after any symptoms have disappeared applies because it is impossible for us to know with any degree of certainty whether these symptoms are  brought on by a coronavirus infection or by a different infection. If you are absolutely certain that you have been infected with the coronavirus - by way of a positive COVID-19 test, for example – you need to wait for 17 days until after you have fully recovered in order to be allowed to safely donate blood, plasma or platelets.   
     

  • Is it possible for a donation to diminish the efficacy of the vaccine against the coronavirus?

    When you donate blood, plasma or platelets, you are also donating some of the antibodies produced by your body after you have been vaccinated. This does not in any way reduce the efficacy of your vaccine. The number of antibodies in the blood collected is minuscule compared to the number of antibodies in your plasma at that moment. Moreover, the human body has other immune cells which accelerate the production of new antibodies, in the event you have been exposed to the virus. In other words, you remain fully protected at all times against a possible infection with the coronavirus.  

  • Are patients who received blood from a donor who has been vaccinated at risk?

    No, the coronavirus vaccines that are administered in our country do not contain any pathogenic live viruses. You may rest assured that at no point your body will have any active viral particles after a coronavirus vaccine was administered to the donors. This means donor blood products are completely safe and without any risk to the recipients.  

  • Why is there no wait after a vaccination against the flu (influenza)?

    Nowadays we have a very good understanding of the flu vaccines, which come with relatively few side effects. The various types of vaccines used against COVID-19 are new, which means we are less familiar with them. Also, we have found that they tend to come with side effects more often. In order to keep the amount of blood products we may need to destroy down to the bare minimum, we decided to put in place a 2-day buffer period.

  • I heard you are looking for plasma donors for a therapy for the coronavirus. How can I help?

     

    A warm thank to all donors who accepted to give their plasma after recovering from COVID 19.
    We now have enough COVID plasma to supply both ongoing studies. We then have no more specific needs of plasma coming from donor who recovered from COVID 19.
    Nevertheless, your plasma remains very precious. It can help people with serious bleeding and is used to produce medicines than save many lives.
    To go on giving your plasma, you can make an appointment in your usual plasma collection center.

     

  • I have donated blood, plasma or platelets less than a week ago and I’m not feeling very well. What should I do?

     

    If you feel you have any symptoms (even symptoms that are not related to the COVID 19 virus), or a piece of information which you did not or forgot to tell the doctor, please immediately call the “post-donation” phone number you were given at the time of your donation. The duty doctor taking your call will assess the situation, advise you on what to do and, if necessary, have the blood bag in question destroyed.

     

  • I’m unable to donate blood but I would like to support the Red Cross teams. How do I go about this?

     

    You can become a Red Cross volunteer.

    Your moral support means a lot and is every bit as welcome! Send us your messages, drawings, photos or videos at info@croix-rouge.be and we distribute them around among our staff. With your permission, we will publish some messages on our Facebook page as to encourage other expressions of support. 

     

  • I have other questions that are not addressed on this page.

     

    You can call us at 0800 92 245 from Monday to Friday, from 08:30 to 16:30, or send us an e-mail at info@croix-rouge.be or visit our Facebook page

     

Look after yourself and the people around you

A big thank you to all donors and all members of staff at the SFS for their efforts in the face of the current crisis!

The Blood Service will be working closely with Sciensano to work up a map of the spread of the COVID 19 epidemic among the population at large. 
Please find further information on this topic in this article and on their website.