Flu season doesn’t usually peak until January or February, but a blood center in northwest Iowa is already seeing an impact on its donor numbers. Heather Marreel, spokeswoman for the Siouxland Community Blood Bank in Sioux City, says supplies are still in good shape, but there’s been a noticeable drop in donations due to scattered influenza outbreaks across the region.
“Right now, we’re coming into the busy season for us as we’re having a lot of blood drives at high schools and colleges,” Marreel says. “They are the ones who seem to be impacted the most with a lot of their students and staff coming down with the flu, so our numbers are down slightly.” Marreel, the center’s director of recruitment, says donors for all blood types are virtually always in demand, but she adds, if you’re feeling like you might have a bug, it’s likely best to stay away for a while.
“We want our donors to be 100% healthy when they come in and donate blood,” Marreel says. “If somebody has the flu symptoms, the chills, the fever, sweats and things like that, we ask our donors to be flu symptom-free for at least 24 hours before they come in and donate blood.” While certain illnesses, conditions or activities can disqualify you as a blood donor, she says just getting vaccinated for the flu isn’t a reason to skip giving a pint.
“The good news is, if you have received a flu shot, or if you plan on receiving the H1N1 vaccine when that comes out, that does not impact one’s ability to donate blood,” Marreel says. “You can receive the shot that morning and still donate blood later in the afternoon.” To reach the Sioux City office, visit: “www.siouxlandbloodbank.org” or to find the nearest Red Cross blood center, call 800-Give Life.