Covid vaccination affects blood donation in Kenya
Blood donation services in Kenya have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as donors who have received partial or full doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have to wait for at least seven days before donating blood.
There is a perennial shortage of blood in the country. The country’s National Blood Transfusion Service rarely manages to collect its target of one million units annually.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the deferment period allows the donor to assess whether they have any side effects after vaccination.
The window is broadening an already existing problem where hospitals are struggling to fill their blood banks.
Clinical pathologist Dr Grace Kiraka who works at the MP Shah hospital in Kenya says the hospital does not have enough blood in their bank and have to rely on patients’ relatives to donate blood should they need it.
She says very few people are going to hospitals to donate blood during the pandemic and now with a deferment period there will be less donors.
The global health body says the deferment period acts as a precautionary measure on a possible risk of transmission through blood transfusion.
WHO’s Africa region technical officer, Dr Andre Loua, told the BBC the risk was more “theoretical than probable”.
Covid-19 is a respiratory illness and the global health body terms transmission via blood transfusion as highly unlikely.