Giving blood is deferred for at least eight weeks after smallpox inoculation.
CLEVELAND -- The Ohio Coalition of Blood Banks is urging people to donate blood before getting the smallpox vaccination to avoid a blood shortage during the waiting period for giving blood after the inoculation.
The coalition includes the American Red Cross' Northern Ohio Blood Services Region, which serves the blood needs of 60 hospitals in 19 counties in Ohio, including Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana.
The Northern Ohio Blood Services Region will defer people from giving blood for eight weeks after they receive the smallpox vaccine. However, in cases where there are complications related to vaccination, deferral periods can be longer, said Karen Kelley, manager of communications and marketing.
People who have close contact with vaccinated individuals, including family members and coworkers who have no skin lesions themselves, remain eligible to donate blood with no deferral, she said.
According to the American Association of Blood Banks, a national organization representing the nation's blood collection facilities, the inoculation of large numbers of individuals in a short period of time has the potential for an adverse impact on the nation's blood supply.
"If those who are to be vaccinated and their eligible family members would donate blood prior to inoculation, we can avoid any adverse effect on the blood supply caused by the deferral period," Dr. Suneeti Sapatnekar, medical director of the American Red Cross, said.
ARC's Northern Ohio Blood Services Region has numerous blood drives scheduled within hospitals, health care organizations and military groups that are part of the government's volunteer smallpox response teams. Some of these drives will occur during the period when vaccination of emergency responders will be taking place, Kelley said.
Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good physical health. Individuals can donate every eight weeks. For eligibility questions relating to medications or health history, call (800) 513-3341.