April 2, 2020 — Update Regarding New FDA Guidance

This morning, the FDA issued an updated guidance regarding blood donation deferrals for a number of risk factors, including travel to malaria-risk regions, tattoos, and risk of transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) and HIV (which includes guidance around men who have sex with men).  A few of the key changes include the following:

  • Deferral for MSM decreased from 12 months to 3 months
  • Deferral for travel to malaria risk areas decreased from 12 months to 3 months
  • Removal of the deferral for geographic risk of vCJD for U.S. military bases in Europe (excluding 3 months or more in U.K. from 1980-1996 and 5 years or more in France or Ireland from 1980-2001).

We are grateful that the FDA is looking seriously at policies that affect the blood supply and while we are not able to implement this update immediately, are working to adapt our policies and procedures to the new guidance as soon as logistically possible. Learn more at


Anyone who has ever lived in or visited another country may have different deferral periods – this will all be reviewed in the donor screening process. Below are a few examples of common travel deferrals. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us at (650) 723-7831.

Blood Donors with Recent Travel to the Caribbean:

Travel to the Caribbean islands may put you at risk of contracting infections not currently found in the United States that can be transmitted to patients undergoing blood transfusions. Of concern at this time, in addition to Zika virus, is a tropical disease caused by chikungunya virus, which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. Although you report feeling completely well and healthy at the time of your donation, you may still have been infected with chikungunya virus during your travel and not experience any symptoms. Because of the risk of chikungunya virus, donors who have traveled to any island in the Caribbean during the two weeks before donating should notify us as soon as possible at 1-650-725-9968 if they become ill.

Visit our post-donation instructions for more information. By doing so, you will assist us in preventing the potential for this virus to be transmitted to those receiving blood transfusions.

More information provided by CDC is available for download

Travel to a Malarial Region (One-year Temporary Deferral):

Because of the risk of Malaria, donors who have traveled to certain countries may be deferred from donating blood for one year. If you have traveled to India, you must wait one year from your return to donate.

Certain parts of Mexico, China, Africa, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines are considered “limited risk areas.” For the most current information available, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) malaria risk maps for the Eastern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. (Malaria risk changes over time with rainfall patterns or successes in malaria control efforts, and updates to the CDC’s Malaria risk maps are being made constantly.)

Residence in a Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Region (Lifetime Deferral):

Because of the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) (also known as Mad-Cow Disease) and other blood-related illnesses, some donors may be deferred for one year or permanently because of their travel history. For more information about this deferral, please see the FDA Q&A site or the FDA Blood Guidance site about vCJD.

Individuals who have spent three cumulative months or more in the U.K. between 1980 and 1996 are indefinitely deferred. Also, individuals who spent five years or more since 1980 in some European countries became ineligible as well. The FDA is hoping to eliminate about 90% of the theoretical transmission risk of vCJD with these tightened restrictions.

The following individuals are ineligible to donate blood for transfusion to others:

  • Individuals who spent a total of 3 months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996.
  • Individuals who were in the U.S. military, dependents of U.S. military, or civilian military and were stationed in certain European countries for 6 months or more between 1980-1996. (This is because some U.S. military bases in Europe obtained their meat from the United Kingdom. Please contact us to discuss where you were stationed.)
  • Individuals who lived in France for 5 years or more since 1980.
  • Individuals who received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom or France since 1980.
  • Individuals who spent 5 years or more since 1980 in some other
    European countries (please contact our staff to discuss your situation).

For more information regarding travel deferrals, please review Form 05-F36 Donor Education Materials.