FACT CHECK: Is The American Red Cross Refusing Blood Donations From People Who Have Received COVID-19 Vaccines?
An image shared on Facebook claims the American Red Cross “reports that vaccinated people cannot donate blood because the vaccine completely destroys their natural antibodies.”
The American Red Cross states on its website that people who have received COVID-19 vaccines can donate blood. COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
Misinformation related to COVID-19 vaccines is widespread and can, according to the Pan American Health Organization, fuel vaccine hesitancy. One claim circulating online recently alleges the American Red Cross is not accepting blood donations from people who have received COVID-19 vaccines.
“American Red Cross reports that vaccinated people cannot donate blood because the vaccine completely destroys their natural antibodies,” reads one Facebook post. “ARC need donors that are unvaxx’ed with natural immunity.”
This claim is not accurate, according to information available on the American Red Cross website. On its “Can I donate after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?” webpage, the organization explicitly states people who received COVID-19 vaccines “can still donate blood, platelets and AB Elite plasma.” Another American Red Cross webpage dedicated to answering questions about the eligibility of donors who have been vaccinated states, “In most cases, there is no blood, platelet or plasma donation deferral time after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The American Red Cross states on its website that “there is no deferral time for eligible blood donors who are vaccinated with a non-replicating inactivated or RNA-based COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, Janssen/J&J, Moderna, Novavax, or Pfizer.” Blood donors who received a “live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine or do not know what type of COVID-19 vaccine they received” must wait two weeks to give blood, according to the American Red Cross website.
The U.K.’s National Health Service Blood and Transplant and the Australian Red Cross, have deferral periods for those who have received COVID-19 vaccines and wish to donate blood, but it’s not because the vaccines “destroy” natural antibodies. The Australian Red Cross website explains that its deferral period is to “make sure you have had no side effects and are feeling healthy and well on the day of donation.” Possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines include soreness at the site of the injection, fatigue, headache, chills, fever and nausea, according to the CDC website.
The notion that a COVID-19 vaccine “completely destroys” a person’s “natural antibodies” doesn’t hold up under scrutiny either. The CDC, WHO and American Red Cross do not mention anything to that effect on their websites.
Instead, the CDC states on its website that COVID-19 vaccines “work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.” The WHO also explains on its website that vaccines “reduce risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defenses to build protection,” as well as “train our immune systems to create proteins that fight disease, known as ‘antibodies’, just as would happen when we are exposed to a disease but – crucially – vaccines work without making us sick.”
Experts also refuted the claim about COVID-19 vaccines destroying a recipient’s natural antibodies in emails to Check Your Fact. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims The Red Cross Is Not Accepting Plasma Donations From People Who Received COVID-19 Vaccines)
“There’s no truth to it as stated,” said William P. Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, when asked about the post’s claim that the COVID-19 vaccine destroys a recipient’s natural antibodies.
“I don’t understand the biological basis for the terms ‘destroy your natural antibodies,'” said Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford University. “In my view this is gibberish.”