You can give blood even after getting a flu shot

Vaccination Does Not Prevent Blood Donation

October 16, 2019- Flu season is underway, and it is expected that more than half of the U.S. population will get a flu vaccine this year according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). However, the American Red Cross does not defer individuals from donating blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if they are symptom-free and meet all other donation eligibility requirements.

Did you read that?  You can still give blood, even after getting a flu shot!

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Important Flu and Blood Facts

The flu vaccine can be administered by a flu shot or intranasal. Neither are cause for a blood donation deferral and there is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, influenza virus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion.

If you have the flu, it is important to wait until you no longer have symptoms and have recovered completely before attempting to donate. All blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

Preventing the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and most times peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.

The CDC recommends that everyone be vaccinated by the end of October. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after vaccine becomes available to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least 4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October.

AT HIGH RISK FOR FLU:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old – although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

The CDC also reports people with the following health and age factors are also at an increased risk of getting serious complications from the flu:

  • Asthma
  • Neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2019-2020 flu season.

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DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).

 YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.

How Healthy Individuals Can Donate Blood

Learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season so you can help patients in need. You can find more information about preventing the flu at redcross.org, as well as receive guidance on the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

You must be 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

You can save time at your next donation by using RapidPass® to complete your pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of your donation, before arriving at the blood drive or donation center. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Back-to-School Sports Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

August is called the “dog days of summer” for a reason. It’s the hottest month of the year for most parts of the country and this year, especially, much of the nation is suffering wave after wave of brutal heat.Icon Disaster

So when I see high school football players on practice fields, I immediately flash back to the dreaded “two-a-days.” Back in my day (yes, I’m a baby-boomer) our very football-oriented high school coaches worked the players hard in the heat twice a day during the hottest months of the summer. I’d hear about— and even witness—guys in my class pass out, get sick and suffer from what was probably heat stroke or exhaustion, as they worked out in their pads day after day in the heat. I think it was a badge of honor somehow if you made it through. However, I thought it looked barbaric. Back then, we didn’t talk about things like the importance of hydration, or the concern over head injuries and long-term damage from concussions and warming up and cooling down as we practice.

Thankfully, we know a lot more now about sports safety. But whether you are male or female, or play one of the many fall and winter sports indoors or out, back-to-school time is a good time to think about sports safety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some great tips to keep kids safe on the field, the court or wherever they participate in sports and recreation activities. Here are some of these tips and a few others:

Use the right equipment: Make sure kids use the right gear for the right sport and use it for both practice and the game. It is important they use protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.

Make sure the gear fits and is in good shape: Check the equipment to assure it is in

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding.

Warm up, cool down: Before starting (or ending) any form of activity, it is important to warm up the muscles by stretching, walking and easing into the practice. At the end, the reverse is also important, so slow down and cool down. Diving right into a strenuous activity without a warm-up can cause pulled muscles, strains and potential injuries. 

Get an action plan in place: Be sure your child’s sports program or school has an action plan that includes information on how to teach athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion and other injuries. Get more concussion safety tips.

Be mindful of temperature: On extremely hot or humid days, allow time for the athlete to gradually adjust to the environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay attention to each player’s activity level, give breaks and make sure they are well hydrated and appropriately dressed. The same is true in extremely cold climates. Parents and coaches need to watch for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion and frostbite and hypothermia .

Be a good role model: No one wants to be that crazy sports parent (we all know the type) screaming at the coaches and the kids from the stands. Most coaches in youth sports are volunteers and should be supported and appreciated not verbally abused. You can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and the stands by being respectful not only to the coaches, but to your child, their teammates, coaches, opposing teams and the officials. As a good sports parent, you can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and in the stands.

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Prepare for an emergency: As a parent, coach or fan, it is always helpful to know basic first aid and CPR. The American Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED classes and has an excellent First Aid App for your phone. Having this knowledge could be a lifesaver in just about any situation including and beyond sports. Find out more about classes and download one of the many free mobile apps here.