The Red Cross Says Doing This Is Essential After Your Flu Shot & Covid Booster

Got your flu and Covid shots for the season? Great, say national health officials. You're one of the best candidates to save lives this winter.

flu shot covid boosterWitthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

If you’ve already rolled up your sleeves for your flu shot and Covid booster, good work. (You can even get your Covid and flu shots the same day…just switch arms!) Vaccinating yourself against these two major viruses is not just a way to prevent the illness in yourself, but it reduces the risk of infection for everyone you’ll encounter in the coming months. That’s important. Infectious disease specialists say this is likely to be one of the worst flu seasons in history. Not to mention, according to the American Red Cross: “[…H]ealth officials warn … that 100 million Americans—equivalent to nearly a third of the country’s population—could get COVID-19 infections in the coming fall and winter.”

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The American Red Cross says both influenza and COVID-19 cases are projected to surge at the same time this winter, while many people hold the mistaken belief that their annual vaccines make them ineligible as blood donors. Instead, says Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the American Red Cross, people with their shots make some of the best blood donation candidates: “It’s particularly important during fall and winter months—when we see an increase in cold and flu cases—that those in good health share their good health by giving blood,” Dr. Lasky says.

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Emily Osment, a senior media relations manager with the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. says getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 causes no waiting period and doesn’t delay your ability to donate blood. This Red Cross representative suggests as long as you’re healthy, feeling well and symptom-free at the time of donation, you can give lifesaving blood.

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The national blood supply has been in critical shortage. The Red Cross offers this 2022 data to encourage you to give:

  • 1 in 7 patients entering a hospital will need a blood transfusion
  • Because blood cannot be stockpiled, vacation activities, severe weather, natural disasters and seasonal illnesses (such as the flu) are a real threat to the blood supply.
  • Blood donations are needed now to help avoid a blood shortage. Unlike other lifesaving treatments, there is no substitute for blood. It can only come from volunteer blood donors rolling up their sleeves to help others.

The Red Cross’s rule in 2022: Remember to donate, even after you vaccinate! You can find your nearest blood donation center by visiting AABB.org.

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Kristine Gasbarre
Krissy is the senior editor leading content for TheHealthy.com and “The Healthy” section of Reader’s Digest magazine. For two decades she has worked in digital media, books, and magazines and is a #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling ghostwriter. Her work has been featured in Reader’s Digest, People, the New York Times, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Sirius/XM Oprah Radio, and more. With degrees in psychology and cultural media studies, she assisted with a clinical research project at the Cleveland Clinic and is a certified group fitness instructor, the owner of two irresistible rescued dogs, and the partner of a physician leader in healthcare quality who is also a stage IV lymphoma survivor.