We have advocated on your behalf and seeking prioritized access to the vaccine as a high priority health care organization, as appropriate. This includes requests for a centralized, coordinated approach to access in each jurisdiction, where possible.
This is to ensure timely access to the vaccine for our teams for their health and for the sustainability of our operations to ensure we continue to meet the needs of patients in Canada. We have engaged with the appropriate government officials at all levels to ensure that our employees and volunteers receive the vaccine as quickly as possible when it is available in each jurisdiction.
Eligibility criteria and sequencing are being managed by individual public health authorities. While we have made every effort to get prioritized access to the vaccine on your behalf, we anticipate that decisions by public health authorities will be inconsistent across the country.
We are assessing the most up-to-date information available and will provide information about opportunities for employees to book vaccinations in their area as quickly as possible. This information will be updated regularly at www.blood.ca/employees/vaccines and communicated to individual sites when there is action required.
Coordination with local public health authorities
Should we be successful in securing coordinated regional access to the COVID-19 vaccine for our teams, Canadian Blood Services may be contacted by public health to provide information directly regarding our eligible employees and volunteers for group registration.
In these circumstances, we will make every effort to assist, including contacting affected teams and/or individuals directly or through their manager to secure consent to share information such as their name, contact information and any other information which may be requested by local public health.
What is being done to ensure Canadian Blood Services frontline employees have prioritized access to the COVID -19 vaccine?
We have confirmed prioritized access to the vaccine for our onsite frontline operational teams in most jurisdictions.
The vaccination roll-out across the country varies greatly among provinces and territories, and indeed from one local public health authority to the next. It is important to remember that eligibility criteria and sequencing are being managed by the individual public health authorities. While every effort is being made by Canadian Blood Services to get prioritized access to the vaccine on your behalf, we are seeing that decisions by public health authorities are inconsistent across the country. Some of our teams are receiving their vaccinations before others as a result.
It’s not clear when I can access my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in my province. Can I have priority access as a Canadian Blood Services employee?
Access to and timing of your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is the responsibility of local and regional public health authorities. It is dependent on local vaccine supply, vaccine type received for the first dose, and case counts locally amongst other factors.
For instance, in some provinces, your second dose appointment may be booked automatically when receiving your first dose; or you may be contacted to schedule your second dose appointment; or you may have to contact the vaccination site. It all depends on your local public health’s authority's vaccine plan and booking system. We have heard that in some provinces there may be inconsistencies in accessing a second dose of the vaccine dependent on how the first dose was obtained (pharmacy versus mass vaccination clinic). We encourage staff to monitor updates in your area and seek the opportunity to get your second dose of the vaccine when available and appropriate as determined by local public health authorities.
Please continue to check the employee vaccine portal, where you can find out vaccine eligibility in your province.
Will employees who work remotely and employees who are on a leave of absence receive prioritized access to the vaccine?
Local public health authorities are prioritizing access to the COVID-19 vaccine based on risk of severe illness and exposure.
Considering this, we are asking employees who work remotely to be patient and wait until they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in their area. Opportunities to do so (age group being the most predominant factor) are changing daily in each jurisdiction. Please check this page daily for the latest regional breakdown of eligibility criteria and sequencing.
Will volunteers receive prioritized access to the vaccine?
Over the past several months, we have advocated at all levels of government for our teams to receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine as appropriate.
Although we have confirmed prioritized access for our onsite frontline operational teams in most jurisdictions, most have now communicated to us that priority COVID-19 vaccine access for volunteers is most appropriate by age or other local criteria.
As a result, we should strongly encourage all volunteers to take advantage of opportunities to be vaccinated outside of Canadian Blood Services efforts.
While vaccine roll-out varies greatly, many of our volunteers may now eligible based on their age group and/or other personal health considerations.
Will it be mandatory for Canadian Blood Services employees or volunteers to get the vaccine?
Although we cannot mandate employees or volunteers to get the vaccine, we do strongly encourage it.
Widespread immunization presents the best option to protect people from COVID-19 and, over time, to lift the restrictions in place to keep people safe and healthy. Until extensive immunization is achieved, public health measures will continue to be essential to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in Canada and save lives.
In order for immunization to protect individuals and potentially have an impact on stopping the spread of COVID-19, enough Canadians need to choose to take the vaccine.
Will our safety measures/PPE change with the rollout of the vaccine?
As we start to see more Canadians being vaccinated over the coming months, you may be wondering whether adhering to the safety protocols we’ve all become accustom to is still necessary. To put it simply — yes, it is. Whether you have personally been vaccinated, or everyone around you has received the vaccine, safety measures such as mandatory masking, physical distancing, wellness checkpoints and hand hygiene continue to play a critical role in reducing the transmission of COVID-19.
Based on recent National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidance, there is insufficient evidence on the duration of the protection of COVID-19 vaccines and the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing asymptomatic infection and reducing transmission. For this reason, here at Canadian Blood Services, all current COVID-19 mitigation strategies in our environments will remain in place for all employees until guidance from public health authorities directs otherwise.
Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to align with the recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information on our COVID-19 safety measures, visit blood.ca/wellness and learn more about our COVID-19 response for employees, including PPE, vaccines and more on your COVID-19 portal.
When can employees who are having side effects (ex: fever) after receiving the vaccine return to work/pass the wellness checkpoint?
The COVID-19 vaccination may result in side effects which affect our employees’ ability to work. If you think you are experiencing an adverse reaction from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, please speak with your manager/supervisor for further guidance.
If you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19, such as a fever, you should remain away from work, inform your manager, seek testing with your local public health authority and follow local public health guidance.
Please reach out to OHS/EHS to coordinate when it is safe for you to return to work. Once you are eligible to return, they will provide you with further guidance about passing the wellness checkpoint at your site.
Why has it been so challenging to get access to the vaccine?
Local public health authorities are responsible for vaccine eligibility and sequencing in each jurisdiction. We have confirmed prioritized access to the vaccine for our onsite frontline operational teams in most jurisdictions. While the federal government provided vaccine guidelines to the provinces, each province has defined their own approach to vaccination, including who is considered priority to receive a vaccine and when to move to the next phase of vaccination.
To further complicate matters, the rollout of the provincial plans are being done at the local public health level. The various levels of governments and their interpretation of the guidelines and approaches provided to them has created an inconsistent approach to vaccination across the country. We are working with local jurisdictions to streamline their interpretation and how it applies to Canadian Blood Services employees.
The most relevant information to you as an individual will be the information provided by your local public health authority. As an organization, we are also monitoring this information regularly and quickly responding as opportunities arise for our frontline teams.
Will I be able to take time off work to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
With vaccine roll-out underway across the country, many of you are, or will soon be, eligible to book your vaccination appointment dependent on local eligibility and sequencing criteria.
Canadian Blood Services is supporting employees through advocacy efforts, regional monitoring and coordination with local public health authorities as required. We are also reviewing our internal measures to ensure we can continue to support employees who are eligible to receive the vaccine.
As an organization, we are encouraging all employees to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and we recognize that there may be cases where eligible employees are only able to schedule their vaccination appointment during their regular working hours.
To support our teams, employees will be paid for their regular scheduled time if they need to be away from work to attend a vaccination appointment. Please notify your manager/supervisor as far in advance as possible, so operational needs can be coordinated.
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.
What will be the impact on donors once a vaccine is available? Will there be a deferral period?
In anticipation of the administration of vaccines, the Donor Selection Criteria Manual (DSCM) working group has conducted a review of the approved vaccines for COVID-19 as well as those under development and have determined these will not impact donation eligibility. Meaning that no deferral will be required at this time.
The DSCM working group is also monitoring how other countries are managing donor deferrals, such as the EU and US (FDA).
Will blood/plasma donors get priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine?
We encourage all donors to take advantage of the opportunity to be vaccinated in their community. Some donors may receive quicker access to the vaccine dependent on where they live, their age and / or individual health considerations.
Will donating blood reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine?
No — there is no suggestion or evidence in the research available that donating blood will reduce the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To understand this a little better, it is important to know why blood donation won’t impact the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and how vaccines develop immunity on our bodies in the first place.
Even though our blood can provide lifesaving products and services to patients in need, donating does not remove the vaccine from the body. It also won’t deplete the body of important immune fighting cells and antibodies that are formed in response to the vaccine.
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection doesn’t cause major illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce special white blood cells and antibodies that will remember how to fight that disease in the future. These immune responses are stored throughout the body, in the blood and certain organs like the spleen.
A very small number of white blood cells might be in the blood that is taken during blood donation, but that amount would not be enough to affect the bodies “memory” or antibodies responsible for fighting the disease.
To put it in perspective, average adults have about five to six liters of blood in their bodies, and whole blood donation requires only about 500 mL. The human body is constantly producing more blood, including the white blood cells required for our immunity against all infections.
What if a someone requiring a transfusion wants to receive blood from a donor who hasn’t been vaccinated?
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 from donors who have received non-live vaccines does not pose a risk to patients who receive a blood transfusion. 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.
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. Further, there are no known or suspected harmful effects of blood from a vaccinated individual to a recipient. Finally, all blood donations must meet all safety criteria and donors must be well and healthy on the day of donation without exception.
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.