The flu is now widespread throughout the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every state except Hawaii has reported a high number of cases; in New Jersey, it’s causing a drop in blood donations.
You can’t donate blood if you have the flu or a cold, said Alana Mauger, communications manager for the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region.
“Donors may be deferring themselves. They might say, ‘Oh, I was supposed to give blood today, but I can’t because I don’t feel good.’ Or they get to the site, and they’re not able to because they have a fever or something like that,” she said. “We do not accept blood from people who are not feeling 100 percent.”
That policy has meant cancelling blood drives that had been expected to collect about 1,600 units of blood, Mauger said.
“We’re at the point now where we are sending blood to hospitals faster than the donations are coming in. Right now, it’s not impacting patient care. Patients are getting the blood they need,”she said. “But we are very close to that not happening.”
Mauger is urging anyone who is feeling well to consider donating blood to prevent the shortage from getting worse.