Spread of Omicron variant affecting New Mexico blood supply

·2 min read
Vitalant
Vitalant

SANTA FE – The fast-spreading Omicron variant is the latest complication forcing blood drives to be cancelled, thereby limiting the supply of life-saving donations. Combined with extreme weather events across the county, these cancellations mean that Vitalant, which serves 900 hospitals across 28 states, is now experiencing a historic, two-year low blood supply. In fact, donations at Vitalant fell short by more than 4,500 donations in December, and that trend has continued into January.

In a recent statement, the American Red Cross echoed this warning, saying the Red Cross “is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care.”

All eligible donors, especially those with the most transfused blood type O, are critically needed to make appointments now.

To make an appointment or for more information, visit vitalant.org or call 877-25-VITAL. Donors must feel well on the day of their donation. Like the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s no waiting period to donate for those who receive a seasonal flu vaccine if all other eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, attached is an Excel document with a list of nearly150 Vitalant donation events from January 21 through February 20, which you can sort according to date, city, and other factors.

“It’s important for people to remember that they can give blood immediately after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine if you’re healthy and well,” said Vitalant Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Vassallo. “To ensure patient care isn’t jeopardized, we need people to schedule an appointment today. Even if the appointment is several weeks from now, setting and keeping it will help replenish what’s needed for both routine treatments and emergencies.”

“In emergency management, you learn very quickly how vital it is that every state and every region have the resources they need to provide life-saving care when disaster strikes,” said DHSEM Deputy Secretary Kelly Hamilton. “Most people are eligible to donate, and your donation could save the lives of people right here in New Mexico. For them, and for our friends and family across the country, please consider donating blood at an event near you.”

COVID-safe practices

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. Surgeon General and Federal Emergency Management Agency have designated blood donation as an essential activity. And to ensure the safety of donors, patients, and staff, Vitalant donation centers and blood drives have consistently observed rigorous precautions, including:

• Taking donors' temperatures upon check-in

• Requiring face masks for both donors and staff

• Disinfecting donor-touched areas after every donation

• Practicing social distancing

More information available here: https://www.vitalant.org/Hidden-Pages/COVID-FAQs.

This article originally appeared on Deming Headlight: Spread of Omicron variant affecting New Mexico blood supply

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