FALLS CHURCH, Virginia –
As the U.S. works to contain the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, each day seems to bring more concern about daily interactions with others.
As public places like schools, restaurants, gyms, bars — even businesses — are temporarily shut down, and public officials stress the importance of staying home, more blood drives are being canceled and fewer donors are coming through the door throughout the country.
This results in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of blood donations no longer available for an ample supply for the days and weeks ahead. Each blood product has an expiration date. Therefore, blood products are always in need and continually need replenishing.
The Armed Services Blood Program’s mission is one of readiness. Readiness requires a future look. The ASBP needs critical blood donations now to be ready for tomorrow to support the warfighter, their families, retirees, and veterans worldwide.
Army Col. Audra L. Taylor, ASBP division chief, combat support, Defense Health Agency, urges those in the military community to give blood.
“COVID-19 is changing the way we go about our daily lives. However, the mission continues. We do the work today of collecting, processing, and distributing blood products to support our warfighters and their families worldwide,” Taylor said. “The ASBP is taking additional precautions to protect the safety of both blood donors and staff.”
Below is information about the safety of donating blood, along with additional steps the ASBP is implementing to ensure donor safety. We ask all who are healthy and eligible to generously give a lifesaving donation to ensure the military community remains mission ready.
Are blood donations safe? Yes!
Blood donor centers and transfusion services go through rigorous accreditation processes and maintain stringent industry standards.
There are many already-in-place standards that keep the blood supply safe. From travel and medical deferrals to vital checks and eligibility requirements on the day of donation, our goal of blood safety has always been the number one priority and focus.
The FDA has reiterated that there have been no known or reported cases of transfusion-related transmission of coronavirus.
There is no known or reported risk to a donor at this time of COVID-19 transmission during the donation process.
What additional measures are being taken?
- Staff members will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and be screened for general health (temperature check) prior to departing for a blood drive.
- Groupings — staff and donors — will be kept at 10 or less.
- Blood drives will be smaller, more localized, but may be increased in frequency.
- A donor’s temperature will be taken before they enter the collection area and after they have registered (per standard operating procedure).
- Social distancing will be practiced to the greatest extent possible.
- There will be increased placement of cleaning products (for donor and staff) for use after leaving each station, and all reusable items used will be cleaned.
We are working with the hospital transfusion services on blood inventory management strategies to help extend the life of blood products already on the shelves.
Are there follow-up measures? Yes!
All donors will be provided with a CDC factsheet about COVID-19, along with standard donor education material.
All donors will be given follow-up contact information and reminded to contact the blood donor center if they develop any illness or symptoms in the proceeding 14 days.
Where do I go to donate?
Have you donated before with the ASBP? If you have donated before and know your ASBP blood donor center or mobile drive crew, please reach out to them directly to find when a drive is coming up or schedule an appointment at the donor center.
You can also reach out to your ASBP blood drive coordinator or sponsor to see when the next blood drive might be scheduled.
To find a blood drive near you, please go to www.militarydonor.com and do a simple zip code search to find one within 10–100 miles.
To find donor center locations, see general deferrals, and more, go to www.militaryblood.dod.mil. ASBP is also on Facebook and Twitter (@militaryblood) and Instagram (@usmilitaryblood).
ASBP Blood Donor Center locations
At Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, the Akeroyd Blood Center can be reached at 210-295-4655, while at JBSA-Lackland, the Armed Services Blood Bank Center-San Antonio can be contacted at 210-292-8145.