Our ultimate priority is the health of the patient and donor. 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.
With COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA or viral-vector vaccine is broken down quickly once it enters the body’s cells and there is no evidence that transfused blood collected from donors who were previously vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine poses any harm to patients. Further, blood donated by individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine is not associated with a risk to a transfusion recipient of COVID-19 infection, nor will it protect a transfusion recipient from COVID-19 infection.
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 a 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.
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