Blood and Plasma Collection Guidance

This guidance provides recommendations for blood drive operations and the sites used for blood drive collections. Early evidence suggests the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread more easily than the seasonal influenza virus, and it appears COVID-19 disease is more deadly. There are precautions persons at blood drives can follow to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Coronavirus and Blood Donations

It is essential to continue collecting blood and blood components to support health care delivery. This guidance is for administration, staff, and volunteers at blood and plasma collection facilities.

Public health guidance may shift. Be aware of updates to IDPH and local health department  recommendations and whether COVID-19 becomes more widespread and/or more clinically severe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state and local health departments, and other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies to monitor COVID-19 and its potential impact on blood availability and blood safety. CDC and HHS agencies also are continuing to work with the AABB Interorganizational Disaster Task Force on Pandemic Influenza and the Blood Supply to enhance preparedness.

Infection Control and Environmental Management

This information reinforces routine measures currently followed by blood centers, provides additional public health measures, and complements CDC’s interim infection prevention and control recommendations. Refer to FDA’s recommendations for donor and product management. These measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Adhere to routine infection control procedures, including appropriate respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette and sharps handling precautions for preventing the transmission of infectious agents.

Follow hand hygiene guidance to help prevent person-to-person spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. If gloves are used, change gloves and cleanse hands between contact with different blood donors.

Regarding staff safety, the wearing of gloves and hand cleansing are governed by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements pertaining to bloodborne pathogens in 29 CFR 1910.1030(c)(3)(ix) and 29 CFR 1910.1030 (d)(iii)–(vi) respectively.

Clean and disinfect environmental surfaces in accordance with standard facility protocols after each donor has vacated the station and before setting up for arrival of a new donor at that station. Ensure environmental cleaning and disinfection procedures are followed consistently and correctly.

Routine cleaning and disinfection procedures are appropriate in health care settings, including those patient-care areas in which aerosol-generating procedures are performed (e.g., using cleaners and water to pre-clean surfaces prior to applying a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered, hospital-grade disinfectant to frequently touched surfaces or objects for appropriate contact times as indicated on the product’s label. Refer to List N https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19 for EPA-registered disinfectants that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogens program for use against COVID-19.

Assess yourself each day before leaving for work for symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms, remain at home and contact the established point of contact (public health authorities or your facility’s occupational health program) for medical evaluation prior to returning to work. If symptoms develop while at work, cease collection facility activities, notify a supervisor, minimize contact with others in facility, and go home promptly.

Know the Latest on Deferral of Blood and Plasma Donors

Follow current recommendations for the screening and potential deferral of blood and plasma donors, available in FDA’s Updated Information for Blood Establishments Regarding the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak.

Take Steps to Support and Educate Staff and volunteers

  • Administrators should designate a time to meet with staff and volunteers to educate them on COVID-19 and what they may need to do to prepare.
  • Talk to them about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and actions blood collection centers are taking to protect them.
  • Instruct staff and volunteers not to report to work when ill. Implement and reinforce sick leave policies that are non-punitive, flexible, and consistent with public health guidance.
  • Evaluate staff, volunteers, and prospective donors for COVID-19-like symptoms as they enter the collection site. Ask individuals with COVID-19-like symptoms to leave to reduce the risk of viral transmission.
  • Arrange seating for prospective donors in the waiting area at least 6 feet apart prior to implementing donor questionnaire.
  • Adjust the physical configuration of the donor cots during blood collection so that donors are at least 6 feet apart.

Last Updated: 6/17/2020