Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Need for blood donations constant despite COVID-19

Medical soldiers from the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, host a blood drive at Fort Bliss, Texas. The need for donated blood is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Cindi King) Medical soldiers from the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, host a blood drive at Fort Bliss, Texas. The need for donated blood is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Cindi King)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

The Military Health System is calling healthy donors to a vital and crucial task: help maintain the blood supply to meet current and future patient needs. The demand for blood from donations never goes away, even in the midst of a global pandemic. As local and state governments limit or ban public gatherings in response to COVID-19, the risk to the blood supply is top of mind for many in the health care community.

As of March 17, nearly 2,700 blood drives have been canceled across the nation, according to the American Red Cross, resulting in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. The Armed Services Blood Program has also experienced cancellations in blood drives currently scheduled on military installations. While the ASBP is able to meet current demands for blood products this week, “we all know that support can change overnight during this emergency,” said Army Col. Audra L. Taylor, ASBP division chief.

Donated blood products have a limited shelf life, which means continued blood donations are needed to replenish the supply and meet potential demand. Donated platelets have a shelf life of five days and whole blood donations remain viable for 21 or 35 days, explained Taylor, who said that while there may or may not be a huge demand for blood among coronavirus patients today, there are still patients within the Military Health System, such as trauma patients, cancer patients, and sickle cell patients, who need blood products.

“The blood we collected last week will impact people’s lives a week or two from now,” said Army Col. Jason Corley, director of the Army Blood Program. “In addition to meeting the needs of patients within the Military Health System and medical treatment facilities, we still have a responsibility to send necessary blood products to support the combatant commands,” Corley added.

Donating blood is safe and there is no known risk of coronavirus transmission by blood or blood component transfusion, Corley pointed out. “This is consistent with what we have seen in other respiratory illness, like SARS and even with the flu.”

According to Taylor the ASBP, in alignment with other agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and AABB, has issued and implemented a list of guidelines to ensure the continued safety of the blood collection process in light of current circumstances. Some of those guidelines include:

• All staff participating in blood drives will be screened for general health through a temperature check

• All donors will have their temperatures checked before entering the blood collection area for registration

• Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes will be readily available for staff and donors to use at collection sites

• Donors will be kept at least 6 feet apart to maintain social-distancing recommendations while donating blood

• All reusable items, such as pens, donor beds, and clipboards, will be disinfected upon use

• Mobile blood centers will limit the number of personnel to maintain social distancing to the greatest extent possible

• Blood drives will limit the number of donors being processed at one time.

“We would encourage donors to [first] do a self-assessment and make sure they are healthy and eligible to donate,” said Corley. “We have put processes in place to keep the blood donation process safe and mitigate any viral transmission. [For example] there are two opportunities for checking a donor’s temperature before donating blood. And the donor is questioned at the time of donation regarding general health and medical conditions.”

Those able to donate blood can visit the ASBP website to find a local blood drive center and learn about upcoming donation drives and open-door hours. The ASBP will continue to monitor blood donor centers and transfusion services daily as it seeks to encourage blood donations across military installations.

“During this time, it is imperative that blood donations continue with the ASBP or any civilian blood collection agency,” said Taylor. “There are so many patients who still need blood products and rely on the generosity of our blood donors.”

You also may be interested in...

DHA-PI 6205.01: Medical Logistics Guidance for the DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (n), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA's) procedures for ordering, receiving, and managing COVID-19 Vaccines inventory and ancillary kits.

DHA-IPM 20-004: Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation

Policy

This Defense Health Agency (DHA) Interim Procedures Memorandum (IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (d), and in accordance with the guidance cited in References (e) through (aa), establishes the DHA’s procedures to implement instructions, assign responsibilities, and prescribe procedures for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. This DHA-IPM applies to DHA, DHA Components (activities under the authority direction, and control of the DHA), Military Departments (MILDEP), and the United States Coast Guard (CG). This DHA-IPM cancels and replaces DHA-IPM 20-004, “Department of Defense (DoD) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Implementation,” December 13, 2020.

TAB A MEO COVID19 Medical Coding Policy

Policy

Memorandum for DHA Staff - Military Medical Treatment Facilities to Implement Updated DHA COVID-19 Medical Coding Policy

  • Identification #: N/A
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA COVID19 Medical Coding PolicyV5 1v

Policy

Establishes the DHA procedures to standardize the coding for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) within military medical treatment facilities (MTFs). This memorandum replaces DHA-Policy Memorandum 20-003 of July 1, 2020. Attachment 1 was updated to include the 2021 procedure and diagnosis codes for COVID-19, including the new vaccination and treatment codes.

  • Identification #: 20-003
  • Date: 3/25/2021
  • Type: Memorandums
  • Topics: Coronavirus

Supplemental Guidance for Providing DoD Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccines to DoD Contractor Employees and Select Foreign Nationals

Policy

This memorandum provides supplemental guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, in accordance with reference (a). The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components as appropriate.

HA Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Laboratory Pre-Testing Questionnaire

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance for a COVID-19 laboratory pre-testing questionnaire that will be mandatory for all Active Duty Service members and encouraged for all other DoD beneficiaries treated at military medical treatment facilities.

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccine Guidance

Policy

This memorandum provides guidance on the provision of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines. The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is the lead coordinating DoD Component for executing this guidance, in coordination with the Military Departments and other DoD Components.

DHA-AI 3020-01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), based on the authority of References (a) through (b) and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (z3), establishes the Defense Health Agency's (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This DHA-AI also provides a preventive plan to monitor and assess for the appearance of new cases and implement those processes that will prevent them from impacting the workforce. The processes describe herein are intended to offer an actionable plan for the workforce to re-enter DHA Administrative Offices. See Appendix 1 for a summary of the DHA Administrative Office Reopening Plan. The plan uses the Force Health Protection Guidance and Health Protection Conditions (HPCON), in accordance with Reference (d), to ensure protection for the workforce, including the most vulnerable-to-serious complications from the virus while enabling DHA Administrative Offices to continue its mission. See Appendix 2 for the conceptual HPCON framework.

  • Identification #: 3020-01
  • Date: 11/3/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus

DHA AI 3020.01: Return to the Workplace Staffing Plan in the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Environment

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Administrative Instruction (DHA-AI), establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) plan to return to full operations and support the whole-of-government response, during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for regression or resurgence in COVID-19 cases that could impact the workforce.

  • Identification #: DHA AI 3020.01
  • Date: 6/12/2020
  • Type: Administrative Instructions
  • Topics: Coronavirus
Showing results 1 - 10 Page 1 of 1

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.