Questions and answers: Blood and Plasma Donation
Do I need an appointment to donate blood?
Yes, appointments are required to donate blood and we offer same-day appointments. We ask all eligible donors to book an appointment online at blood.ca, on the GiveBlood app, or by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
Can I donate blood if I had COVID-19?
A person who has had a COVID-19 infection must wait 10 days from when symptoms started or 10 days after a positive test result if asymptomatic.
For more information about eligibility, we ask donors to call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236-6283).
Are masks mandatory to enter a Canadian Blood Services site?
Masks are not mandatory in Canadian Blood Services sites. Although no longer required, masks are known to help curb the spread of COVID- 19 and are welcome in our environments and available to anyone who chooses to wear them.
Are masks available to employees, donors, volunteers and visitors?
Yes. Masks, including N95s, are available to staff, volunteers, donors and visitors.
What COVID-19 preventative measures do you have in place?
Although no longer required, masks are welcome in our environments and available to anyone who chooses to wear them.
Hand sanitizer is available throughout our collection spaces.
Before entering our facilities and collection events, everyone must review our wellness questions available at the entrance. Donors, employees/volunteers are asked not to enter if they are feeling unwell, experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or said ‘yes’ to any of the questions on our wellness poster.
High-touch surfaces are cleaned regularly and donor beds are wiped down after each use.
Employees and volunteers at Canadian Blood Services are vaccinated against COVID-19. To help safeguard our environment, we strongly encourage all donors entering our collections events to be fully vaccinated too.
Thank you doing your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and for respecting each person’s choice to wear a mask or practice physical distancing.
Do I need to be vaccinated to enter a donation event?
A donor’s vaccination status is not a requirement for entry to a collections event, however; to help safeguard our environments, we strongly encourage donors to be fully vaccinated before entering a collections event. Donors are not required to provide proof of vaccination and we will not turn away unvaccinated donors. A donor may be required to show proof of vaccination at certain events where the property owner requires it.
Is COVID-19 transmissible by blood or blood products?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, blood transfusions have been closely monitored and there has been no evidence of COVID-19 being transmissible through blood and blood products. This includes plasma protein products, which are pharmaceutical therapies made from plasma — a component of blood. Canadian Blood Services has strict measures in place to ensure the continued safety of our products and services related to blood, plasma, stem cells, and organs and tissues.
Should I stay home if I’m not feeling well?
We ask our donors to stay at home if they are not feeling well, since only healthy people are eligible to donate blood. Potential donors are pre-screened for any signs of sickness when they book the appointment. If you are not feeling well on the day of your appointment, please reschedule for a later date.
There are other ways you can help save lives during this time. You may be eligible to register to donate stem cells and organs and tissues. Financial gifts to Canadian Blood Services also help make a difference for patients by supporting donor recruitment efforts and strengthening our national programs and initiatives for life essentials.
What if I fall ill after donating?
As with any donation if you fall ill up to 14 days after your donation, please contact us at 1-888 2-DONATE.
How are your employees being screened in donor centres?
Employees are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and not report to work if they are feeling unwell.
All Canadian Blood Services employees, without a legitimate medical or human rights exception are required to be fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine.
I have travelled in the last 14 days. Can I still donate?
There are no travel restrictions related to COVID-19 but you are encouraged to review other travel restrictions or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) if you’re unsure of your eligibility.
Can I wear my own mask?
Yes, you can wear your own mask. Surgical face and N95 masks provided by Canadian Blood Services are also available.
Have governments asked Canadian Blood Services to help with performing COVID-19 antibody testing on the general public?
Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec have formed a research partnership with the national COVID-19 Immunity Task Force to determine the prevalence of the antibody against COVID-19 in Canadians’ blood.
This partnership was announced by the federal government on June 17, 2020 and continues to operate. To date, we have tested nearly half a million samples.
Canadian Blood Services routinely tests donor blood samples for infectious disease and unexpected antibodies. Not all samples collected during donations over the coming months will be part of the seroprevalence study.
The study has provided policy-makers an understanding of the actual COVID-19 infection rate for different groups and regions in Canada.
The data collected for the purposes of the study is subjected to Canadian Blood Services’ research ethics board protocols. The research is being conducted using de-identified data.
Is there a deferral period for donors who receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Donors who receive the COVID-19 vaccine do not require a deferral period.
Our Donor Selection Criteria Manual working group (DSCM) conducted a review of the four Health Canada authorized vaccines for COVID-19 (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty®, Moderna Spikevax®, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria®, and Johnson & Johnson) as well as those under development and determined they will not impact donation eligibility.
Internationally, blood supplier regulators have chosen to apply varying lengths of temporary deferral from blood donation after receiving particular vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines. Like Health Canada, other national regulators, such as the U.S. FDA, do not require a deferral from blood donation after receipt of a nonreplicating, inactivated, or mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. Accordingly, the American Red Cross does not defer donors who indicate that they had received a non-live COVID-19 vaccine. The American Red Cross does have a deferral period of two weeks if donors cannot recall which vaccine they received.
You can find more information about COVID-19 vaccines and blood donation at https://www.blood.ca/en/covid19/vaccines-and-blood-donation
Is it safe to receive blood or blood products from a donor who has had the COVID-19 vaccine?
Our ultimate priority is the health of the patient. As part of our mandate to provide a safe, accessible blood supply to Canadians, medical and scientific professionals at Canadian Blood Services carefully review and assess each vaccine authorized for use in Canada. Health Canada has not recommended or imposed any restriction on the use of the four authorized COVID-19 vaccines and blood donation. All new vaccines are assessed by the medical professionals at Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, in conjunction with recommendations by Health Canada, and informed by scientific evidence.
Health Canada has indicated that no blood donor deferral is required for any of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines. This is consistent with Canadian Blood Services’ donor eligibility criteria for other non-live vaccines, for which no donor deferral is required, and is in line with the practice of other blood operators.
Blood collected from donors who have received any of the current Health Canada-authorized COVID-19 vaccines has not been associated with any adverse transfusion reaction that has been attributable to vaccination of the donor.
Is Canadian Blood Services involved in the collection of convalescent plasma for a potential treatment for COVID-19?
Canadian Blood Services was involved in an international study that looked at whether convalescent plasma could be used as a potential treatment for COVID-19. We contributed by collecting and supplying plasma from fully recovered COVID-19 patients in Canada. Results of the study can be found here.
Can I donate blood if I have been exposed to COVID-19?
Yes, you can donate blood if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 as long as you have no symptoms and are feeling well on the day of donation.
If you are unsure of your own eligibility, please consult our ABCs of eligibility page or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
Questions and answers: Plasma Protein and Related Products
What about medications made from plasma? Is COVID-19 transmissible through plasma protein products?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible through blood and blood products. This includes plasma protein products, which are medications made from plasma — a component of blood. In general, plasma protein products are extremely safe because of the added steps in the manufacturing process that inactivate or remove pathogens so they can’t cause illness.
What is Canadian Blood Services’ role when it comes to plasma protein products?
We are the national blood operator, which includes the collection of plasma for manufacturing into plasma protein products. In addition, Canadian Blood Services is responsible for the procurement and distribution of all plasma protein and related products to hospitals and clinics across Canada, on behalf of the provincial and territorial health systems (excluding Quebec).
We take this responsibility very seriously and we do everything we can to safeguard the activities that fall within our authority. This includes regular collaboration with health-care partners, patient groups and manufacturers to ensure clinicians have access to a safe and reliable national inventory of plasma protein and related products to care for their patients.
The ongoing situation with COVID-19 is unprecedented, and Canadian Blood Services is focused on doing our part to help keep patients, families and communities safe.
How are decisions related to plasma protein products and the impact of COVID-19 being made?
While the ongoing situation with COVID-19 is unprecedented, pandemic plans are in place and we are prepared to respond appropriately, as needed. Pandemic planning to safeguard the supply of blood and blood products is led by the National Emergency Blood Management Committee, which includes representation from provincial and territorial health systems, the National Advisory Committee on Blood and Blood Products and Canadian Blood Services.
To reduce my risk of exposure, can I send a designate to pick up my prescribed allotment of products from the hospital instead?
It is our understanding that individual health systems and/or hospitals have taken measures, where able, to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
We encourage patients to check with their local hospital or clinic staff to see whether procedures to assign a designate are in place or can be initiated to limit the potential risk of exposure during product pick up.
Can I pick up a larger allotment of the treatment I need to reduce the number of trips to the hospital I have to make to pick up my prescription?
Patients who self-administer plasma protein and related products at home pick up their products from hospitals and clinics as ordered by their doctor. The refill quantity is also determined by their doctor.
To balance the risk of potential exposure while maintaining the security of supply, as directed by the National Emergency Blood Management Committee, Canadian Blood Services will support hospitals and their patients by ensuring that the national inventory of plasma protein and related products will allow for a maximum refill quantity of three months of product for patients who are prescribed home infusion therapies.
Questions and answers: Organs and Tissues
Is COVID-19 affecting deceased organ donation and transplantation?
Canadian Blood Services continues to work closely with the OTDT community, our national advisory committees, the Canadian Society of Transplantation, and other stakeholders to monitor how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affects organ donation and transplantation. Because the situation continues to evolve and is unique in each jurisdiction, please contact your donation or transplant program for more information.
Is it safe to have a transplant during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A transplant can save a life, but it also weakens the immune system, which makes someone more likely to get sick from viruses. All organ donors are being tested for COVID-19, but the virus spreads easily. That’s why transplant teams across Canada are determining how best to proceed for the health of their patients. Talk to your transplant team if you have more questions.
Can organs of deceased donors be transplanted if the donor contracted COVID-19 before their death?
All potential donors are evaluated on an individual medical, case-by-case basis.
Is the Kidney Paired Donation program still operating?
The Kidney Paired Donation program has resumed after a temporary pause in response to COVID-19. The team is working with the living donation and transplant programs across the country to safely match donor and patient pairs to help enable more kidney transplants in Canada.
Has the Highly Sensitized Patient program been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Highly Sensitized Patient (HSP) program continues to operate.
Individual programs determine if an offer from the registry can be accepted based on their hospital’s policies and processes for deceased donor organ transplantation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Has eye or tissue donation and transplant been impacted by the pandemic?
In response to COVID-19, hospitals cancelled elective surgeries, resulting in a reduced demand for tissues. Collection and transplant of tissues has since resumed. Local transplant programs will continue to determine how best to proceed for the health of their patients and have their own measures in place for emergencies. For more information, please contact your local transplant program.
I’m on a waitlist, will I still get a transplant?
During COVID-19, Canada’s transplant programs are reviewing cases individually and will determine whether it is safe to proceed with transplantation. After having a transplant your immune system is weak, making you more likely to get sick. Your transplant physician can advise on whether a transplant is appropriate for you during the pandemic.
Will patients lose their place on the waitlist if delays or cancellations continue?
No. Transplant programs continue to weigh the risks and benefits of who can safely be transplanted when an organ becomes available.
Now that elective surgeries have resumed, will my previously scheduled transplant be a priority in the surgery backlogs?
There are many factors that will affect how each hospital will prioritize procedures and clear backlogs. For the most accurate information, we recommend you contact your transplant program to discuss your own personal circumstances and potential timing for a transplant.
If I was approved to donate, will I be tested for COVID-19?
I was previously tested for COVID-19 and ready to donate/receive a transplant. Will I need to be tested again?
Transplant teams review individual cases and determine how best to proceed for the health of the patient and the donor. Potential organ donors are tested for COVID-19. If they test positive, they will not be able to donate. Your local transplant team will be able to tell you if any additional testing is necessary.
I’m a living donor. I am prepared to take the risk to save a life.
Organ donation and transplantation is an essential life-saving and life-preserving medical intervention. However, transplant recipients are, or are likely to become, immunocompromised and may be at an increased risk of more severe outcomes related to COVID-19.
Because the situation is rapidly evolving and unique in each jurisdiction, please contact your provincial organ and tissue program for details.
Are there any recent changes/developments that might impact transplant candidates that I should be aware of?
Transplant teams review individual cases and determine how best to proceed for the health of the patient. Talk with your transplant team if you have more questions.
Will I need to travel to donate/receive my transplant? If so, is it safe?
[Please note: local donation is outside of scope for Canadian Blood Services]
Living donation and transplant programs are following the important health recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada and their provincial Chief Medical Officers of Health. Because the situation continues to evolve and is unique in each jurisdiction, please contact your provincial organ and tissue program for details.
If I travel, will I need to quarantine?
Please talk with your local transplant program for more information about any requirements for your transplant as a result of COVID-19.
What steps can I take to ensure my safety? To protect myself?
Transplant recipients are immunocompromised and may be at increased risk of more severe outcomes related to COVID-19. For this reason, it is important to take precautions to prevent infection. We recommend patients contact their transplant program or their local public health office for advice. Public Health Agency of Canada also provides guidance on how high-risk people can stay safe: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/people-high-risk-for-severe-illness-covid-19.html
I heard that some hospitals are turning away organ and tissue transplant patients if they are not vaccinated. What is Canadian Blood Services’ response?
Canadian Blood Services continues to work closely with the OTDT community, our national advisory committees, the Canadian Society of Transplantation, and other stakeholders to monitor how the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic affects organ donation and transplantation.
Some hospitals have enacted a policy that requires patients to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a Health Canada approved vaccine in order to receive an organ transplant. Organ transplant recipients face a weakened immune system after surgery which makes them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and an increased chance of death since their immune systems may not be strong enough to fight the virus. Being vaccinated is among other requirements patients need to meet in order to receive an organ transplant.
Though Canadian Blood Services is not responsible for decisions made by hospital programs, it fully supports that transplant programs make evidence-based decisions that are in the best interest of organ donors and transplant patients.
Because the situation continues to evolve and is unique in each jurisdiction, please contact your provincial or territorial organ and tissue program for details.
Where do I go for more information?
If you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact your transplant program. For general information related to COVID-19, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s information page.
Questions and answers: Other ways to donate
Are there any other ways I can help patients?
There are many ways to donate and help patients. You can volunteer your time at a donor clinic or make a financial donation, either once or on an ongoing basis. Financial gifts to Canadian Blood Services help make a difference for patients by giving our national donor recruitment efforts a boost at times when donors are in great need. Donating financially also helps fuel research and drive world-class innovation in blood transfusion and transplantation medicine. Learn more at give.blood.ca.