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Sofia Ahmed
By Sofia Ahmed February 28, 2024

Questionnaire asking blood donors’ vaccination status isn’t proof COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe

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  • All blood collectors are required to ask donors about their vaccine history because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires various wait times to donate blood for live-attenuated vaccines — vaccines that use a weakened form of the virus that causes infection.

  • The FDA has not approved any live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccines for use in the U.S., FDA spokesperson Carly Pflaum said, although one is being developed and is in clinical trials.  

  • If a potential donor who was vaccinated doesn’t know the manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccine they received, the American Red Cross asks them to wait two weeks before donating blood to prevent the risk of spreading the virus from a live-attenuated vaccine. 

  • Learn more about PolitiFact’s fact-checking process and rating system.

An American Red Cross questionnaire asking blood donors about their vaccination status does not show that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe, as some social media users have claimed. 

Multiple Instagram posts shared screenshots from an American Red Cross blood donor survey that asked, "Have you EVER had a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine?" 

The posts includes text without proper punctuation that says, "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’? What info are they hiding from us?" 

These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

First, the question is not new. American Red Cross spokesperson Daniel Parra told PolitiFact in an email that the organization has been asking potential donors if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 since December 2020.

All blood collectors ask every potential donor about their vaccine history, Parra said, because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires various wait times to donate blood depending on the vaccine donors received. 

For example, people who received a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are asked to wait four weeks before donating blood, and those who received a hepatitis B vaccine are asked to wait 21 days before giving blood, according to American Red Cross guidance

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Parra said people who received a COVID-19 vaccine are asked to provide the name of the vaccine’s manufacturer to ensure they received an FDA-approved vaccine. If their vaccine was approved by the FDA, then they can give blood without a waiting period. If they can’t remember the name of the manufacturer, they must wait two weeks from their vaccination before they can give blood.

FDA guidance was updated in 2022 to say that COVID-19 vaccine recipients do not need a waiting period for blood donation unless they received a live-attenuated viral COVID-19 vaccine, in which case they should wait two weeks.

Live-attenuated vaccines are distinct because they contain a weakened form of the germ that can cause an infection. They are included in some bacterial and viral vaccines to provide immunity against future infection. The Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies, a non-profit representing blood collectors and other institutions involved in transfusion medicine, says wait periods are recommended because it is possible that blood donors who have received live-attenuated vaccines can pass the virus to others through blood donations.

Carly Pflaum, an FDA spokesperson, told PolitiFact via email that no live-attenuated viral COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for use in the U.S., and all FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are nonreplicating, inactivated or mRNA based.

However, a live-attenuated COVID-19 vaccine is under development in the clinical trial stage. This vaccine would be administered intranasally and produce an immune response to multiple COVID-19 strains and variants. 

There is no scientific evidence showing U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccines contaminate blood transfusions and put recipients at risk. "The COVID-19 vaccine is designed to generate an immune response to help protect an individual from illness, but vaccine components themselves are not found within the bloodstream," Parra said. 

We rate the claim that an American Red Cross questionnaire asking blood donors about their vaccination status proves COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous False. 

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), Feb. 20, 2024

Instagram post (archived), Feb. 20, 2024

Emailed statement from Daniel Parra, American Red Cross spokesperson, Feb. 21, 2024

American Red Cross, Eligibility Criteria: Alphabetical, accessed Feb. 26, 2024

Association for the Advancement of Blood & Biotherapies, FAQs about Blood and Blood Donation, accessed Feb. 26, 2024

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Updated Information for Blood Establishments Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic and Blood Donation, Jan. 11, 2022

Email interview with Carly Pflaum, FDA spokesperson, Feb. 26, 2024

Infectious Diseases Society of America, Study Shows COVID-19 Intranasal Vaccine Candidate Produces Robust Immune Response, Oct. 11, 2023

PolitiFact, Ask PolitiFact: Can COVID-19 vaccine recipients donate blood?, April 23, 2021

PolitiFact, No, COVID-19 vaccinated blood poses no risk, health experts say, Nov. 28, 2023

PolitiFact, 10 types of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation swirling online, fact-checked, July 26, 2021

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Questionnaire asking blood donors’ vaccination status isn’t proof COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe

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