Emergency blood shortage continues As the holidays approach and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns about a potential spike in flu cases this year, it’s important that those who are eligible, healthy, and feeling well make an appointment to donate blood or platelets. The American Red Cross continues to address an ongoing emergency blood shortage, and it urges donors to give now to combat the lowest blood supply levels at this time of year in more than a decade. According to the CDC, flu cases reached an all-time low last year as a result of masking, physical distancing, and shutdowns across the country, and many Americans may have reduced immunity this year. When seasonal illness increases, the number of healthy blood donors tends to decrease. Paired with winter weather, busy holiday schedules, and ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the already-struggling blood supply could be further impacted throughout winter.There is no blood donation waiting period for those who have received a flu shot or a Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or booster so long as they are symptom-free. Donors can schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To encourage donors to help meet the needs of hospital patients this month, all who come to donate between Nov. 1 and 23 will receive a $10 Amazon.com gift card by email (restrictions apply, see amazon.com/gc-legal). Those who give around the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 24–28, will receive a pair of Red Cross socks, while supplies last. Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions — including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status — have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment before arriving at the drive. Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Washington County are: Barre 11/23/2021: 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Barre Auditorium, 16 Auditorium Hill Berlin 11/26/2021: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Berlin Mall, 282 Berlin Mall Road, Unit 28 Montpelier 11/24/2021: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, 100 State Street Waterbury 11/20/2021: 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Waterbury Municipal Building, 28 North Main Street Waterbury Center 11/23/2021: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Ivy Computer, 2933 Waterbury-Stowe Road Save Time During Donation Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App. To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements. Health Insights for Donors At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platele,t and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity, and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease. Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.