MACON, Ga. — For months, the Red Cross and hospitals around the country have asked for COVID-19 survivors to donate their plasma.
What about people who have gotten their vaccine? Can vaccine recipients still donate convalescent plasma?
We spoke to Dr. Jennifer Hoffman at Coliseum Medical Centers and checked guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to verify.
Initially, the FDA said no because the vaccine was so new.
That's also what the American Red Cross says on their website.
However, the FDA has changed their guidance in the last few days to say you are still eligible to donate.
"Simply having the vaccine would not make you qualified. On the other hand, if you've had COVID and you have the antibodies and you've been vaccinated. That wouldn't disqualify you. That would be fine," says Hoffman.
The FDA and Hoffman say getting the vaccine won't stop you from donating plasma as long as you still fit the criteria.
According to the FDA, that means you've tested positive for COVID-19, are within 6 months of getting over your symptoms and received the vaccine after you've had the virus.
However, Hoffman says they aren't even using a lot of convalescent plasma at Coliseum anymore.
"It's playing a much smaller role than it did early in the pandemic. Early in the pandemic, I was using it left, right and center."
She says the FDA now says it should only be used early on in the infection and to only use plasma with a high antibody count, but for now, the Red Cross is still asking for plasma and blood donations.
They say they acknowledge the change in the FDA's guidance and are making the change to accept those who have gotten the vaccine and previously tested positive.
"We are evaluating the feasibility and timeline to implement this complex update, alongside the evolving hospital needs for COVID-19 patients," says the organization on their website.
You can sign up to donate on their website.
So, we can verify that yes, if you've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, you can still donate your plasma as long as you've tested positive for the virus, are within six months from getting over your symptoms and you tested positive sometime before you got your vaccine.