FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims The Red Cross Is Not Accepting Plasma Donations From People Who Received COVID-19 Vaccines

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the American Red Cross is not accepting plasma donations from people who received COVID-19 vaccines.

Facebook/Screenshot

Facebook/Screenshot

Verdict: False

While people who received COVID-19 vaccines are unable to donate convalescent plasma to the Red Cross, they can still donate plasma, as well as blood and platelets, to the organization.

Fact Check:

Over 234.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. as of April 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are currently three COVID-19 vaccines with emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. COVID-19 vaccines help people build immunity to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, without people “having to get the illness,” according to the CDC website.

The Facebook post contains a screen grabbed tweet that alleges the Red Cross isn’t accepting plasma donations from individuals who received COVID-19 vaccines. In the tweet, there is a screen grab from the “COVID-19 Vaccine and Convalescent Plasma Donor Eligibility Information” section of the Red Cross website. (RELATED: Did Donald Trump Tweet, ‘My Blood Is The Vaccine’?)

“The Red Cross won’t accept plasma donations from people who have had the Covid vaccine,” alleges the tweet. “You’re willing to put something in your body that is so untested that the FDA and Red Cross don’t know if you can donate plasma, yet me not wanting to take it makes me irresponsible?”

Plasma, the yellow liquid portion of blood that contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins, may be donated to help treat people with certain medical conditions, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. COVID-19 convalescent plasma, which specifically comes from a person who has recovered from the novel coronavirus and contains antibodies against COVID-19, may be used to help other people recover from the virus, the Mayo Clinic explains on its website.

The Red Cross explicitly states “if you received the vaccine, you can still donate blood, platelets and AB Elite plasma” on its “Can I donate after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?” webpage. The claim appears to have arisen from confusion about the Red Cross saying on part of its website that “individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not able to donate convalescent plasma with the Red Cross.”

“However, these individuals may be eligible to donate other blood products with the Red Cross including whole blood and platelets if they meet other donation eligibility criteria,” the Red Cross goes on to say. “The Red Cross acknowledges that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did update its guidance regarding convalescent plasma donor eligibility related to those who receive a COVID-19 vaccine. We are evaluating the feasibility and timeline to implement this complex update, alongside the evolving hospital needs for COVID-19 patients.”

The new FDA guidance states that COVID-19 convalescent plasma should not be collected from individuals who received authorized COVID-19 vaccines unless they meet three criteria: “had symptoms of COVID-19 and a positive test result from a diagnostic test approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA,” “received the COVID-19 vaccine after diagnosis of COVID-19” and “are within 6 months after complete resolution of COVID-19 symptoms.” The limited conditions under which people who recovered from COVID-19 and received vaccinations can donate convalescent plasma are meant to “ensure that COVID-19 convalescent plasma collected from donors contains antibodies directly related to their immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection,” according to the FDA document detailing the new guidance.

On its website, the Red Cross states that it is “testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies” and that “plasma from whole blood donations that meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s criteria for COVID-19 antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.”

Eligible donors for blood, platelets and plasma who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 must be able to provide the vaccine manufacturer’s name when they come to donate, according to the Red Cross.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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