Here you will find answers to the most common questions related to blood donation, the Stem Cell Registry and the Blood Service.
Are you separating the blood donated by those vaccinated against coronavirus and those unvaccinated to distinguish whether the blood used in transfusions is from a vaccinated or an unvaccinated person?
The blood donated by those vaccinated and those unvaccinated is not separated, and the Blood Service does not record the vaccination details of blood donors. Based on the structure and mechanism of action of coronavirus vaccines, there are no safety concerns regarding the blood donated by people who have been vaccinated.
Can donating blood just before coronavirus vaccination prevent blood clots?
There are no facts to support this. In any case, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids before and after donating blood to prevent dehydration and the associated nausea. In theory, dehydration may slightly increase the risk of blood clots. Donating blood just before vaccination is not harmful in general – as long as the donor is not too nervous about the vaccination and does not remain standing for long periods of time.
Can I donate blood if I've had coronavirus vaccination?
Coronavirus vaccine does not prevent blood donation. Strong reaction to the vaccination (severe pain, fever or rash) mean you have to wait for two days after the symptoms have ended before you can donate blood.
See also: Frequently asked questions about coronavirus vaccination and blood donation
Can you refuse blood from someone who has been vaccinated against coronavirus?
In Finland, patients have the right of self-determination, which means they can refuse any treatment. Nevertheless, you cannot specifically refuse a transfusion of blood from a person who has been vaccinated, because blood products are not labelled according to the vaccination status of the donor as the vaccinations are not considered to affect product safety.
Blood products often save lives, and the patient should be aware of the risks that a refusal may involve, as these risks may sometimes be serious and life-threatening. Blood cannot be replaced with medicines.
Do other countries employ deferral periods after vaccination against coronavirus?
None of the coronavirus vaccines approved by the European Union involve any specific safety precautions regarding blood donations and blood transfusions. If the vaccination causes symptoms, blood donation should be avoided for a couple of days.
Some countries require a short deferral period between coronavirus vaccination and blood donation. These deferral periods are in place because it may be difficult to determine whether any symptoms (such as fever) are due to the vaccination or just illness and thus to decide what measures should be taken regarding the donated blood.
The Blood Service is not aware of any longer deferral periods or permanent disqualifications from donating blood in any countries after vaccination against coronavirus. Misconceptions about the blood donation disqualification of those vaccinated have arisen partly because those who have been vaccinated and have recovered from COVID-19 have not been allowed to donate plasma – this special “convalescent plasma” has only been collected from people who have had COVID-19 but have not been vaccinated. COVID-19 convalescent plasma is still being studied, and the associated donor elgibility criteria are specific to each study. Many countries now approve or are planning to approve the antibodies acquired by vaccination.
Is the blood donated by those vaccinated against coronavirus safe for the patient?
The vaccines do not contain SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 or any fractions of the virus. The so-called viral vector vaccines do not contain any disease-causing or viable viruses either.
Vaccine adjuvants rapidly move from the injection site to the neighbouring muscle cells and lymphocytes in the lymph nodes, and are therefore unlikely (if at all) to end up in the bloodstream. The RNA in the vaccines also breaks down rapidly in the body. The coronavirus vaccines used cannot attach to the human genome (DNA) and therefore cannot modify it.
Because of the way donated blood is processed, red blood cell products and platelet products contain very little plasma. The white blood cells have been removed by filtration, which further reduces the possibility of any traces of the vaccine passing into blood products. Once the vaccine has produced antibodies, a very small amount of these is transferred to the blood recipient, but this is not enough to protect the patient.
Why doesn’t Finland employ deferral periods after coronavirus vaccination?
Deferral periods are not required, as coronavirus vaccines do not pose a risk to the safety of blood products. Some countries employ deferral periods because if the donor has a reaction to the vaccine, the blood products already donated must be removed from storage, as it is not certain whether the symptoms/fever are due to an illness. After comparing this wastage with the one that would result if nobody could donate blood for a few days after vaccination, we concluded that routine deferral periods would cause more wastage.