American Red Cross: Flu season may impact blood supply, donors needed

(ABC 6 News) – The American Red Cross is urging blood donors to give now and help fight the impact of seasonal illness and a potentially severe flu season on the blood supply.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting a serious spread of flu this year and is already reporting an early spike in cases in several states. Data released by the CDC on Friday showed 20% of flu tests are coming back positive for influenza.

Also, cases of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, continue to rise. The viruses typically spread during winter, but experts have said the surges are occurring earlier than usual.

RELATED: CDC: Flu vaccine uptake low as RSV, influenza continue to spread

When seasonal illnesses increase, the number of healthy donors tends to decrease, leaving the Red Cross blood supply vulnerable to a potential shortage over the holidays.

The Red Cross says all blood types are needed, especially those with type O blood. Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals – both because it is the most common blood type and because type O negative blood is the universal blood type needed for emergency transfusions and for immune deficient infants.

There are two donation sites in Rochester:

  • Mayo Clinic, Hilton Building (First Floor): 210 2nd St. SW
  • May Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus – Joseph Building (Main Floor, Room M-86), 1216 2nd St. SW

To schedule an appointment, call the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program at 507-284-4475.