As Hawaii battles its highest COVID surge, Blood Bank of Hawaii CEO Kim-Anh Nguyen and 30 physician leaders from healthcare facilities statewide united to share an urgent message. Our healthcare system is now in crisis – one that’s preventable. Let’s all reaffirm our commitment to protect our loved ones, and the lives of our community. Please get vaccinated, wear masks, maintain physical distance and avoid gatherings.

Together, we can save lives and get through this. Mahalo!

Blood Bank of Hawaii is monitoring the evolving public health situation and preparing for potential further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). While we cannot predict blood needs, we know that a continuous and reliable supply of blood must remain available in order for hospitals to treat Hawaii’s patients. As stewards of the state’s blood supply, we are concerned that COVID-19 has the potential to adversely impact the availability of the blood supply, and we want to provide the most up-to-date information. We want to reassure you that at BBH, we are doing everything we can to face this challenge. Here are some answers to questions that you may have regarding blood donations:

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (short for coronavirus disease 2019) is a new respiratory disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus. Symptoms can range from mild flu-like to more severe symptoms, primarily among the elderly and those with existing medical complications. Due to the numbers of people impacted and its relatively quick spread, individuals and organizations, including Blood Bank of Hawaii, are doing their part to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

Is it safe for me to donate blood?

  • Yes, it’s safe! You are NOT at any increased risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood, going to a blood center or attending a blood drive.
  • Our pre-donation screening process requires health/travel questions and a mini-physical exam, including a temperature check for every donor.
  • We defer any donors who have a fever or are not feeling healthy and well.

Can I give blood after receiving the currently available Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines?

Yes. You will not be deferred or need to wait for any period after receiving these vaccines.

What procedures are already in place to ensure donor safety?

  • All blood bags and needles are sterile, single-use only.
  • Disinfecting wipes are placed in all donation areas.
  • Donor beds are cleaned between each donation.
  • All donor areas, including the reception/waiting area, canteen, history booths and donation chairs are cleaned regularly.
  • Before blood collection, the donor’s arm is thoroughly disinfected.
  • Staff wear gloves while interacting with donors during the entire donation process.

What additional measures are being taken to ensure donor safety?

  • BBH has been in consultation with Hawaii DOH, as well as the CDC and FDA. We understand and follow the recommendations for social distancing and other precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Blood drives are not considered a large gathering because we only schedule small number of donors at a time throughout the day.
  • BBH procedures are already in line with best practices among blood banks. However, where applicable, we are modifying our workflow and operational setup to comply with DOH and CDC recommendations.
  • BBH is continuing to strictly enforce the policy that team members must NOT report to work if they don’t feel well.

Can I donate if I had COVID-19?

  • For the safety of our staff and other donors, if you have an appointment but have tested positive or have been in close contact with a coronavirus carrier, do not donate blood for 28 days.

What changes were made to ensure the safety of donors, staff and the blood supply?

We have safety protocols in place to ensure a safe operation, including disinfecting tools and machines, detailed staff call-off procedures and proper utilization of all necessary personal protective equipment.

Every donor is pre-scheduled by appointment and pre-check stations are posted outside of our operation areas to screen donors. All donors and staff are required to wear a facial covering, all donor touch points are physically distanced by at least six feet and we ensure a capacity of no more than 10 donors in any functional area at any given time.

How can I help?

Make an appointment to donate, post the news on your social media pages and share the opportunity with your friends and family! Please note that although all blood types are needed and will be used, there is an immediate and high need for O-Positive and O-Negative blood types. Kauai has a relatively high number of registered donors with these blood types.

Healthy donors interested in giving blood may register at bbh.org or call 808-848-4770. As a reminder, an appointment is required as walk-ins can no longer be accommodated. Individuals with questions about operations during COVID-19 may visit bbh.org/COVID-19 or connect via social media.

Where and when can I give blood?

Find a Blood Drive Near You

And remember, in these trying times, it is easy to feel isolated and fearful. But our BBH community has the opportunity to come together and take care of one another. It is so important to fill appointments not only now, but also we ask for you to pledge to make appointments for the next few months. Mahalo to everyone who has and will continue to donate. To make an appointment, find a blood drive here or call (808) 848-4770.

How will my donation experience be different?

  • Your experience will be mostly the same.
  • All donors must wear face coverings.
    • Coverings include a tightly woven fabric without holes that’s secured to the head with either ties or straps, or simply wrapped and tied around the wearer’s nose and mouth.
    • Household items such as handkerchiefs and scarfs are permitted.
  • You will be asked to temporarily remove your face covering at various stages of the donation.
    • Upon arrival, you will be asked to remove your covering for identification purposes.
    • This also serves as our first visual inspection to ensure that no potential donor with signs or symptoms of a cold, cough, upper respiratory infection or evidence of being unwell are admitted to the collection area.
  • You will be free to remove your face covering during the donation if you feel unwell. We want you to be comfortable and safe while on our premises.

What else should I keep in mind?

  • Please remember that the best way to prevent catching or spreading any virus is washing your hands with soap and water, maintaining social distancing recommendations, using a face covering and staying at home if you do not feel well.
  • If on the day of donation or just prior to it you have been experiencing fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat, please cancel your appointment and reschedule after you’re feeling better.
  • If you had contact with someone who might have or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if you’re concerned you might have it, please do not donate.

Mahalo to Donors

We called on donors and you answered. We recognize the extraordinary response by blood donors across the state to ensure the availability of Hawaii’s blood supply during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we thank you. But the work is not done. We invite you to continue this long journey with us. You can donate eight weeks after your last whole blood donation. Please schedule your next donation today.

To make an appointment, find a blood drive near you or call (808) 848-4770.