National Blood Shortage: Omicron Variant, Other Factors Decimate Blood Supply

Published by The Bee News

January 15, 2022

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ARIZONA STATEWIDE — A national blood shortage is further stressing the nation’s fragile healthcare system. Vitalant, which services about 900 hospitals across 28 states is currently experiencing a historic, two-year low blood supply. The fast-spreading omicron variant is the latest COVID-19 complication forcing additional community blood drives to cancel and lessening the number of healthy and available donors.    

All eligible donors, especially those with the most transfused blood type O, which is currently at less than half of the desired four-day supply, are critically needed to make an appointment now to give in the days and weeks ahead. As a special thank you during January, National Blood Donor Month, all those who give with Vitalant any time this month will be entered into the $5,000 Big Game Giveaway to win one of four, $5,000 prepaid gift cards redeemable by email. 

“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today. Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies.”  

Blood donations at Vitalant fell short of the need by more than 4,500 donations in December and the trend has continued into January. In addition to the effects of the omicron variant, severe winter weather in parts of the U.S. has further impacted blood drives, resulting in uncollected donations.  

“Now is the time when new blood donors, those that haven’t given in a while and regular donors are all needed to step up and help address this critical healthcare issue,” said Cliff Numark, Vitalant senior vice president. “Astonishingly, only about 3% of the population donates blood, but most people are eligible. If more people start donating, shortages could be prevented.”                            

This shortage is not unique to Vitalant. Associations representing all blood services organizations in the U.S. warned the nation’s blood supply is at a dangerously low level and this trend must reverse to prevent hospitals from having to postpone potential lifesaving treatments.  

Donors urged to act now: make an appointment 

To make an appointment or for more information, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL. Donors must feel well on the day of their donation. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s no waiting period to donate for those who receive a seasonal flu vaccine if all other eligibility requirements are met. 

About Vitalant 

Vitalant (“Vye-TAL-ent”) is the nation’s largest independent, nonprofit blood services provider exclusively focused on providing lifesaving blood and comprehensive transfusion medicine services for about 900 hospitals and their patients across the U.S. Every day, Vitalant needs to collect about 5,300 blood, platelet and plasma donations to help save lives. For more information and to schedule a donation appointment, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL (877-258-4825). Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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