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.
Travel to a Malarial Region (Three-month Temporary Deferral):
Because of the risk of malaria, donors who have traveled to certain countries may be deferred from donating blood for three months. If you have traveled to India, you must wait three months from your return to donate. Note that this deferral period was updated from one year on September 17, 2020, due to an updated FDA guidance.
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.)
Please note, if you have formerly lived in a malaria-risk country, you must have resided in a non-endemic country for three years without traveling back to a malaria-risk country in order to be eligible to give blood, per FDA guidelines. Additional questions about relevant travel may be asked on the day of donation by the medical historian.
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 permanently deferred because of their travel history.
Individuals who have spent three cumulative months or more in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996 are indefinitely deferred. Also, individuals who spent five years or more in France or Ireland from 1980 through 2001 are 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 three months or more in the United Kingdom from 1980-1996.
- Individuals who lived in France and Ireland for five years or more from 1980 through 2001.
- Individuals who received a blood transfusion in the United Kingdom, France or Ireland since 1980.
Note that some of the deferral categories related to vCJD were removed on September 17, 2020. You can find a summary of those changes here.
For more information regarding travel deferrals, please review Form 05-F36 Donor Education Materials.