Healthy Living

As colder temperatures and lack of sunlight leave us craving warmth this winter, trips to tropical climates will be planned by many Canadians. However, some preventative measures before you head south could help to both reduce your own risk of getting sick and keep the blood supply replenished for patients in need here at home.

While vaccines are important for helping to prevent disease, if you are a blood donor receiving a vaccine, you should be aware of regulations that may restrict your ability to donate for a time. For example, receiving a vaccination for influenza (the flu) will result in a two-day deferral from giving blood. Therefore, if you are planning to get a flu shot or any travel-related vaccination, consider what the deferral period may be and plan your donation accordingly, either before the vaccination or after the deferral period.

Similarly, if you spend time in a region affected by malaria, you will be temporarily ineligible to donate blood. Depending on the length of your stay in an affected region, this waiting period can last from one to three years. Some popular tourist destinations, such as Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica, have regions where malaria exposure is a risk. In 2011, Canadian Blood Services temporarily deferred 34,365 donors due to potential exposure to malaria. So, our advice if you are heading to a malaria-risk country but want to donate blood: give before you go!

For a list of malaria-risk zones please visit www.blood.ca under “Can I Donate?”.

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