The website of the Japanese Red Cross states that individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 "are not allowed to donate blood for the time being."
The same page warns potential blood donors that they will not be able to give their blood for a certain time after they have received different vaccinations.
Some deferrals prevent blood donations for 24 hours after vaccination, including after getting vaccinated for influenza, cholera and tetanus. Others prevent blood donations for two weeks after vaccination, such as after getting the hepatitis B vaccine.
Those who have received the vaccines against mumps, rubella and other "live vaccines" that are considered weakly poisonous are not allowed to donate blood for four weeks after vaccination. Those who have gotten the smallpox vaccine cannot donate blood for eight weeks after receiving the dose.
Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University's Japan campus, explained that Japan has not forgotten about a scandal that gripped the nation in the 1980s. At the time, government officials had allowed blood contaminated with the HIV virus to continue to be used. This was even though it had been established that virus elements in the blood could have been eliminated with the use of heat treatments.
Kingston said this explains both the cautious approach to blood donations and the very slow and methodical rollout of coronavirus vaccines in the nation. Only around two percent of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated, compared to more than 35 percent in the United States.
"It's a bureaucratic bottleneck driven by fear that something might go wrong, so best to delay and delay," said Kingston.
In the U.S., the American Red Cross is allowing individuals who have received the coronavirus vaccine to donate their blood. (Related: OUTRAGEOUS: American Red Cross accepting coronavirus-infected people as blood donors, claims coronavirus can't be spread through blood.)
According to the American Red Cross website, vaccinated individuals will either be allowed to donate blood immediately or after a short deferral time, depending on the type of coronavirus vaccine they receive.
People inoculated with an inactivated or RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine will be able to donate their blood immediately. These vaccines include those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
If the vaccinated individuals received a live attenuated coronavirus vaccine, if they are unsure what kind of COVID-19 vaccine they received or if they got vaccinated as part of a clinical trial for a vaccine that has not yet been authorized for widespread use in the U.S., they have to wait a mere two weeks before giving their blood.
Because the authorized vaccines in the U.S. – Pfizer, Modern and Johnson & Johnson – are either RNA-based or use an inactivated virus, this means there is virtually nothing stopping vaccinated individuals from donating their blood.
"The simple answer is, there is no waiting time between vaccination and donation," said Kim Cronin, manager of donor services at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Donation services have received this news warmly. This is because blood banks have been experiencing a shortage of blood since the start of the pandemic.
"The past fourteen months have been quite challenging for those of us responsible for maintaining an adequate blood supply for patients in need," said Cronin. "Blood continues to be needed every day."
"With more people getting vaccinated and starting to return to normal activities, the Red Cross is concerned about the impact that could have on blood donor turnout," said Holly Grant, CEO of the Red Cross of Massachusetts. "Blood is a perishable product and the supply must be constantly refreshed so that hospitals always have what they need when they need it."
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