COVID-19 vaccines and blood donation
COVID-19 vaccines – ‘non-live vaccines’ - do not carry viruses to recipients
The four currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are categorized as non-live vaccines. This means that they do not contain infectious bacteria or virus or other pathogens that can replicate in the vaccine recipient or cause an infection.
Consistent with our eligibility criteria for other non-live vaccines, Canadian Blood Services accepts donations from otherwise eligible donors who have received a Health Canada-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, with no required deferral period following vaccination. This is because non-live vaccines have not been shown to pose any health risk to recipients of blood from donors who have received such vaccines. Other examples of non-live vaccines that don’t impact eligibility to donate blood include vaccines for tetanus, meningococcal meningitis, pertussis, and influenza.
Donors who receive the COVID-19 vaccine do not require a deferral period
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.
What if someone requiring a transfusion wants to receive blood from a donor who hasn’t been vaccinated?
Canadian Blood Services does not reflect vaccination status for any COVID-19 or other vaccines on the labels of products derived from blood donations.
Blood donations must meet all safety criteria and donors must be well on the day of donation without exception.
The labeling information for donated blood is limited to information that is relevant to the appropriate selection and safe use of the product, including the blood group, and other information as required by Health Canada or recommended by relevant blood safety standards.
In Canada, there is no regulatory requirement or blood quality or safety standard that requires that the vaccination status of the blood donor be indicated on the label of a blood product. This is because the blood of donors who have received non-live vaccines does not pose a risk to patients who receive a blood transfusion.
Blood donated by individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine is not associated with a risk for COVID-19 infection and the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not transmissible by blood. There are no known or suspected harmful effects of blood from a vaccinated individual to a recipient.
If a patient requires a blood transfusion, the patient or their legal guardian should discuss their concerns with their healthcare provider. Every patient has the option to accept or decline transfusion, following the hospital’s informed consent policy, processes, and procedures. A request for autologous donation (you donate and store your own blood to be used by you) or directed donation (someone donates blood for you) must be made by a patient’s physician for medical reasons. Canadian Blood Services does not collect directed donations other than in consultation with physicians for extremely rare medical circumstances. Requests for unvaccinated blood for personal reasons through autologous or directed donation will not be considered.
If you have questions about your eligibility to donate, please reference our eligibility section or call 1-888-236-6283 and ask to speak to one of our nurses.
Information about spike proteins
There are unverified claims that Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines, or the spike proteins produced by the body in response to these vaccines, could be harmful to recipients of blood collected from vaccinated donors. These claims are unproven and not substantiated by the safety studies required for regulatory approval of these vaccines, or from ongoing Canadian and international vaccine and blood safety monitoring. There is no evidence to suggest that blood from a healthy donor vaccinated at any previous time with a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine poses any health risk to any recipient of any age.