Frequently asked questions
Even during a pandemic, 1,000 blood donations are needed every day to meet the needs of people awaiting transfusions of blood products. Therefore, it is still essential for Héma-Québec to fulfill its critical mission of collecting blood donations for the people of Québec.
Héma-Québec reiterates that it is carrying out its activities in keeping with the measures from the public health authorities.
- Continuation of blood collection activities
- Additional safety measures deployed
- Qualification criteria for donating blood during the pandemic
- What you need to know before going to a collection site
- General information about COVID-19
Continuation of blood collection activities
Under the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19, Héma-Québec must continuously adapt its supply strategy to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers and employees and to comply with government directives. Since additional logistical challenges can arise with the regional collections, we might be there less often than usual.
Find out where to give near you.
The government’s ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings includes exceptions, some of which apply to Héma-Québec.
No suspension of blood donation activities is covered by the government’s Order in Council:
- Gatherings are required for blood donation activities.
- Access to the premises in order to hold blood collections is necessary.
- The logistical organizing of the collections considers the minimum distance of two metres.
- It’s important to recall that our blood collection sites are attended by donors who are healthy at the time of donating.
Also, when necessary, Héma-Québec provides travel authorizations so that every donor can go to a collection site, wherever they are.
Additional safety measures deployed
Héma-Québec applies strict measures—at all times, not just during a pandemic—to ensure the safety of donors and of the blood.
Blood donation candidates must undergo a rigorous selection process, and only healthy people are eligible to give blood. Moreover, Héma-Québec has always asked people who have a fever or who feel unwell to not come to clinic locations.
There is also no risk of contracting an illness by giving blood, because all of the materials used for collecting blood are new, sterile, sealed and used only once.
To date, the following additional measures have been implemented:
- Controlled access to collection sites:
- Every donor and volunteer are asked additional questions beforehand:
- Are you feeling well today?
- Do you have a fever?
- Do you have a cough?
- Have you been in contact with a person infected with COVID-19 in the last 14 days?
- In the last 14 days, have you been outside Canada?
- Have you lost your sense of smell and taste in the past 14 days?
- Wearing a surgical mask, issued by Héma-Québec, is mandatory for all (employees, volunteers and donors) at all times.
- Every donor and volunteer are asked additional questions beforehand:
- Regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
- The logistics of the drives has been reviewed to comply with the minimum two-metre distancing as much as possible.
- Addition of acrylic panels at all collection sites.
The logistical organizing of the collections takes into account the minimum distance of two metres, including:
- Two meters between chairs in the collection site waiting area.
- Where the layout permits, a distance of two meters between the collection beds.
Also, wearing a surgical mask, issued by Héma-Québec, is mandatory for all (employees, volunteers and donors) at all times.
The risk level for COVID-19 remains low for transfusions. At this time, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted by transfusion. The transmission by transfusion of a respiratory virus—including COVID-19—has never been documented.
Qualification criteria for donating blood during the pandemic
These criteria are in addition to those already in effect, which you can read on the Who can donate? page.
Anyone who has or has had COVID-19 must wait 14 days after their recovery date before they can give blood.
Contact living in the same household:
- If a donor has been in contact with someone who is or has been infected with or is suspected of being infected with COVID-19, he/she must wait 14 days starting from the date of that person’s recovery, before being able to donate. If testing shows that this person does not have COVID-19, the donor can donate right away.
- If a donor has been in contact with someone who is or has been infected with or is suspected of being infected with COVID-19, he/she must wait 14 days starting from last contact with that person, before being able to donate. If testing shows that this person does not have COVID-19, the donor can donate right away.
Yes. If the tests are negative for COVID-19 and if you also meet usual qualification criteria, you are eligible to donate blood.
Autorised vaccines by Health Canada do not involve a blood donation prohibition period. Someone who has been vaccinated and is feeling well may donate without delay.
Anyone who has travelled outside Canada cannot give blood for 14 days following the date of return.
To allow Héma-Québec to collect the 1,000 daily donations needed for continuing its mission, even during the pandemic, while continuing to ensure the safety of donors and recipients, some of the criteria have been temporarily changed:
The interval between whole blood donations is currently 56 days for a woman and 28 days for a man.
Women and men who donate blood at a frequency of 56 days and 28 days respectively are more at risk of a drop in their iron stores. Donors, however, can easily remedy that by taking iron supplements. Besides, the number of donations per year must not exceed 6 for a woman, and 8 for a man. This is to protect the iron reserve and give it a chance to renew itself.
The interval between platelet donations by apheresis is currently 10 days.
Donors’ platelet levels return to normal within a few days.
Suspension of physical examinations and blood-pressure taking in order to minimize close contact.
All donations are now done by appointment only.
We ask that you not arrive more than 5 minutes before your scheduled time.
What you need to know before going to a collection site
During this pandemic period, in order to control the number of people and promote social distancing, someone accompanying you must also be donating blood. Therefore, you cannot be accompanied to a collection site with a child or someone not donating blood.
Héma-Québec is privileged to be able to count on the commitment of donors and volunteers, a number of whom are 65 years of age or older.
Héma-Québec being a priority and essential service, the contribution of these groups is therefore significant for the achievement of its mission. As such, people who are 65 years of age or older can, if they wish, keep or donating blood or volunteering.
That said, we would truly understand if you chose to limit your activities because of the current context and the most recently announced measures. We look forward to seeing you again when the situation permits.
It is mandatory to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces. The places where blood drives are held and fixed centres are considered to be indoor public spaces. Wearing a mask is therefore mandatory for everyone (employees, volunteers and donors) at all times.
Yes, each donor will be issued a mask by Héma-Québec and will be required to wear it during their entire time at the collection site.
No. Donors must wear the mask provided by Héma-Québec in order to access the collection site.
Medical masks have proven effective in preventing respiratory infections. That is not necessarily true with home-made face coverings since those products have not been certified.
Also, because Héma-Québec has no way to ensure that the mask worn by the donor upon arrival, even if certified, has been handled properly and in accordance with the public health recommendations.
This measure is intended to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers and employees at blood collection sites.
Donors wearing a mask during their entire time at a collection site involves adapting the rules around consuming water and snacks at collection sites.
So, the salty snack is no longer given before donating. However, a bottle of water can be provided to donors who did not hydrate before arriving. The donor must drink it in a designated hydration area.
These adjustments are in place to prevent donors from handling their masks and bringing their hands to their faces while they are at the collection site. A snack after the donation will be provided, but will have to be eaten outside the collection site.
Héma-Québec reiterates the importance of good hydration before donating blood and recommends that donors drink water and eat a salty snack before going to the collection site.
No. A collection site is not the place to get tested for COVID-19, HIV or hepatitis B and C.
If you think you may be at risk, we ask that you not go to a collection site for the safety of other donors and Héma-Québec staff and volunteers.
No. Since the transfusion transmission of coronavirus—including COVID-19—has never been shown, Héma-Québec does not test blood donations for COVID-19.
General information about COVID-19
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