The National Blood Transfusion Council’s (NTBC) revision of guidelines to reduce the deferral period between a COVID-19 vaccine dose and blood donation from four weeks to two weeks has cleared apprehensions over a possible blood shortage in blood banks.
Health experts had raised those concerns ahead of the launch of the vaccination drive for people in the 18-45 age group, who form the majority of blood donors. It was believed that if someone got two doses of the vaccine, that person might not be able to donate blood for at least eight weeks or around two months.
Since there were no mega blood donation camps because of the pandemic-induced restrictions on public life, this would have led to a shortage of blood in most of the blood banks. The Kerala State Blood Transfusion Council (KSTBC), the State-level nodal agency, launched a campaign urging youngsters to voluntarily donate blood before going for vaccination.
Council vice-chairman R. Ramesh told The Hindu on Sunday that in view of the concerns, the NTBC clarified its stand recently. “Blood can be donated 14 days after receiving the first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. So there is no issue right now. We are maintaining enough stock of blood,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources said the annual requirement of blood units in the State had come down in the post-pandemic period against the backdrop of a dip in the number of road accidents and surgeries. From four-lakh units, the requirement dropped to around 2.5 lakh units.
Dr. Ramesh, however, said that many donors were not able to reach hospitals or other healthcare institutions because of the lockdown. Blood donation camps had not resumed as well. He said the demand was now met with the help of relatives and acquaintances of patients and voluntary organisations. A functionary of the Kerala Blood Donors’ Forum said that its volunteers were attending to the demands from hospitals.