FDA Lifts Certain Travel-Related Deferrals for Blood Donors

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sets guidelines on who can donate blood in the United States, guidelines that are followed by all blood centers in the nation. In April 2020, these guidelines were adjusted, allowing many potential donors who had previously been deferred to give blood.

Malaria Risk

  • Travel to countries that carry a high malaria risk previously disqualified a donor for 12 months. This has been changed to a 3-month deferral.
  • If you’ve been been a resident of a high malaria risk country, however, you still remain deferred for 3 years.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

    Military members were often deferred due to their residency in Europe. The guidance on this deferral has changed, and only if you meet one or more of the criteria below will you be deferred:
  • Blood transfusion in United Kingdom, France or Ireland, 1980-present
  • 3 months or more cumulative time spent in United Kingdom, 1980-1996
  • 5 years or more cumulative time spent in France or Ireland, 1980-2001
  • Residency at a US military base in Europe is no longer a deferral. Note: The U.K. comprises England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

Questions about other eligibility requirements? Visit our Can I Donate page or give us a call at 877-340-8777.

Has your eligibility changed? Make a blood donation appointment today! Find a blood drive or donor center near you.

Why were these rules changed?

The FDA, which regulates blood donation, made the change based on new scientific studies and epidemiologic data. Thanks to this new information, the FDA concluded that the existing policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria could be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply.

Does this mean I’m at risk now, because people can give blood who couldn’t before?

No, the FDA concluded that changing existing policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria would not compromise the safety of the blood supply.

What if I’m not sure if my time in Europe would make me ineligible to donate?

If you’re not sure if you spent enough time in the listed countries to donate, it’s best to refrain from donating.

Bob Grant