The Canadian Blood service says new rules put in place to help guard against the Zika virus are putting the squeeze on blood supply.
The organization says thanks to vacations and summer activities, donations always take a dip over the summer months, but this year, Zika virus precautions are tightening supply further.
It estimates 200,000 donations across the country will be needed in the next two and a half months to have enough supply on hand for the season.
The Blood Service implemented new restrictions in February, as concern about the virus grew.
David Patterson says it’s tough to assess the exact impact the restrictions have had, as they overlap with some malaria restrictions, but overall deferrals have dropped noticeably since they were implemented.
“What we’ve seen over all is our deferrals to go up about three and a half percent in British Columbia, and when you lay that over a significant amount of donations and collections, represents quite a gap for us. Three and a half percent is a big change over just a couple of months, and it really happened around February.”
As of February 5th, anyone who has travelled outside of Canada, the Continental U.S., or Europe must wait 21 days before donating blood.
That waiting period also applies to cord blood and stem cell donors.
The service says the three-week break is enough to ensure the virus has been eliminated from anyone’s bloodstream.
Metro Vancouver push
Patterson says the Zika restrictions, coupled with a nasty flu season mean the service is behind when it comes to meeting its donation targets – a problem, when only a fraction of the population donates.
“One in two Canadians can actually give blood, but only one in 60 actually does.”
The organization says in order to meet demand, it needs about 18,000 blood donations in Metro Vancouver alone, with an emphasis on type-O blood.
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