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Red Cross: Flu vaccine, blood donations help save lives

The American Red Cross is urging healthy donors of all blood types to give blood to ensure a strong blood supply for patients as the U.S. braces for flu season while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.

Flu shot doesn’t affect blood donation eligibility

Medical experts are urging people to get the flu shot to avoid a flu epidemic on top of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Because blood can only be given by those who are feeling well, a severe flu season could create additional challenges to maintaining a sufficient blood supply for hospital patients in need.

There is no waiting period to give blood or platelets after receiving a flu shot as long as the donor is symptom-free and fever-free. There is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving a flu vaccination.

For those that have the flu, it is important to wait until they no longer exhibit flu symptoms, have recovered completely and feel well before attempting to donate. Donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

Stay healthy this flu season and make an appointment to donate blood by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Important COVID-19 information for donors

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed COVID-19 symptoms. Red Cross antibody tests will be helpful to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood donation collected from COVID-19 survivors that have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within one to two weeks in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including temperature checks, social distancing and face coverings for donors and staff — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

Upcoming area blood donation opportunities

• Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Alden-Conger High School, 215 N. Broadway in Alden

• Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday at Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea

• Noon to 6 p.m. Friday at Northbridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea — hosted by the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce

• 1 to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at Round Prairie Lutheran Church, 12881 757th Ave. in Glenville

• 1 to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at United Methodist Church, 200 Sixth St. in Ellendale

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 5 at Bridge Community Church, 2016 Bridge Ave. in Albert Lea

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at Emmons Lutheran Church, 490 Pearl St. in Emmons

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at Shoe Sensation, 2339 Leland Drive in Albert Lea

• Noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at First Lutheran Church, 301 W. Clark St. in Albert Lea

• 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 13 at the National Guard Armory, 410 Prospect Ave. in Albert Lea.