There were close to 40 million plasma donations in the United States in 2017. Many people who regularly donate plasma know how important their donations are for use in lifesaving medical treatments.

Some have raised questions about plasma donation during the coronavirus 19 (COVID-19) pandemic. For instance, if you’re a regular donor, you’ll likely have heard false reports that you won’t be able to donate if you get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Additionally, if you’ve contracted a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, you might’ve heard of a need for convalescent plasma donation. Convalescent plasma contains antibodies from certain diseases that can help fight those diseases.

Your body makes antibodies when you respond to and recover from an infection. That’s why if you’ve recovered from COVID-19, you’ll have COVID-19 antibodies, and it’s why you might’ve heard about donating COVID-19-convalescent plasma.

You also develop COVID-19 antibodies when you receive the COVID-19 vaccine. What does this mean for donating convalescent plasma? Read on to learn more.

A COVID-19 vaccination won’t prevent you from donating plasma. You’ll be able to donate after a vaccination. You can also donate if you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine booster.

There are only a few requirements to keep in mind after your COVID-19 vaccination. You’ll be required to be symptom free and feel healthy on the day of your donation.

You’ll also need to know which company manufactured the vaccine you received and provide their name to the plasma donation center. Your vaccination card lists this information. The three vaccines available in the United States are:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • Johnson & Johnson

If you don’t know who manufactured the vaccine you received, you’ll need to wait 2 weeks before donating plasma.

There are some misunderstandings about wait times for donations after a COVID-19 vaccination. This is due to confusion about the different types of plasma donations.

As long as you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, are feeling healthy, and know the name of your vaccination manufacturer, you don’t need to wait after your COVID-19 vaccination to donate standard plasma. But this isn’t the case for other types of plasma donation.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a demand for both standard and convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma contains high levels of antibodies for certain diseases.

Plasma donation centers can accept COVID-19-convalescent plasma from you if you’ve recovered from COVID-19 or received a COVID-19 vaccination. If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccination, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations state that only COVID-19 vaccinations given within the last 6 months qualify you to donate COVID-19-convalescent plasma.

Currently, neither the American Red Cross nor the National Institutes of Health are collecting COVID-19-convalescent plasma. The COVID-19 vaccine and the overall reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations have helped lower the need for convalescent plasma donations.

Standard plasma donations are the only donations needed at this time. You don’t need to wait to donate standard plasma following your COVID-19 vaccination.

You can donate plasma without a COVID-19 vaccination even if you’ve had COVID-19. As long as you’ve fully recovered from COVID-19, you’ll be able to donate. Plasma donation centers consider you fully recovered after at least 28 symptom-free days.

Why donate plasma?

Plasma donation is highly encouraged for anyone who’s eligible. Plasma is key in treating a wide range of health conditions, but only a small number of people who are eligible to donate plasma become donors. There are multiple reasons plasma donation is important, including:

  • Plasma is the liquid component of blood that’s not white blood cells, red blood cells, or platelets. It contains antibodies, proteins, and other vital substances.
  • Plasma helps blood clot.
  • Plasma helps fight diseases.
  • Plasma can treat conditions such as primary immunodeficiency disorders.
  • Plasma can treat traumas such as burns or shocks.
  • Surgical teams can use plasma during procedures.
  • Scientists use plasma to make medications.

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Donating plasma is more time consuming than standard blood donation. At most plasma donation centers, a donation will take at least an hour.

The exact time will depend on the center and its policies. The American Red Cross states that an average plasma donation at one of its locations takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.

There are also normally regulations about how often you can donate plasma. This might be once a month, once every 2 weeks, or another set frequency depending on the center. Some centers might also compensate you financially for your time and donation.

The process of donating plasma is similar to other blood donations.

  1. A nurse or phlebotomist (a healthcare professional who collects blood samples for tests, transfusions, or donations) will find a vein and insert a needle into your arm.
  2. The needle is attached to a tube transporting your blood into a machine.
  3. The machine separates the plasma from your blood cells. This is what takes the most time.
  4. Your blood is collected and returned to your body with sterile saline solution while your plasma will be stored.

You’ll generally be able to read, use your phone, study, or do any other activity during your donation as long as you don’t move your arm and dislodge the needle.

Plasma donation helps provide vital lifesaving treatments. The antibodies and other proteins found in plasma can help fight infections, clot blood, and treat injuries. It’s a great way to help others, especially if you’re healthy and have the time to donate.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a lot of confusing information about how vaccinations affect your ability to donate plasma. The truth is that you’re still able to donate after a vaccine. As long as you’re symptom free and know the name of your vaccine manufacturer, you can donate plasma with no wait time.

You can also donate plasma if you’ve had COVID-19, even if you haven’t been vaccinated. As long as you’re fully recovered and have been symptom free for 28 days, you’ll be eligible to donate.

If you’ve been concerned that your COVID-19 vaccination or booster or SARS-CoV-2 infection means you can’t donate plasma, you don’t need to worry. You can go back to donating plasma as long as you’re feeling healthy and don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms.

It’s a good idea to call your plasma donation center to see what COVID-19 safety measures they have in place, such as wearing a mask or providing recent negative test results. But your vaccination or past infection won’t hold you back.