As the holidays approach and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns about a potential spike in flu cases this year, it’s important that those who are eligible, healthy and feeling well make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, implored the American Red Cross this week.

The Red Cross continues to deal with an ongoing emergency blood shortage, and donors are urged to give now to combat the lowest blood supply levels at this time of year in more than a decade.

According to the CDC, flu cases reached an all-time low last year due to masking, physical distancing and shutdowns across the country, and many Americans may have reduced immunity this year.

When seasonal illness increases, the number of healthy blood donors tends to decrease. Paired with winter weather, busy holiday schedules and ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the already-struggling blood supply could be further impacted throughout winter, Red Cross officials say.

There is no blood donation waiting period for those who have received a flu shot or a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or booster, so long as they are symptom-free. Donors are urged to schedule an appointment at redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-733-2767.

To encourage donors to help meet the needs of hospital patients this month, everyone who donates through Nov. 23 will receive a $10 Amazon gift card by email. Those who come to give around the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 24-28, will receive a pair of Red Cross socks, while supplies last.

Upcoming blood donations

Burlington: Thursday, Nov. 18, 1-7 p.m., University of Vermont Waterman Building, 85 So. Prospect St.; Wednesday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., UVM Medical Center main campus, 111 Colchester Avenue.

Essex: Nov. 27, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Essex Experience, 21 Essex Way, Unit #300.

South Burlington: Saturday, Nov. 13, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Chamberlin School, 262 White St.

Hyde Park: Nov. 23, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Green Mountain Tech and Career Center, 738 Route 15 West.

Morrisville: Nov. 22, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., VFW, 28 Pleasant St.

Waterbury: Nov. 20, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Waterbury Municipal Building, 28 North Main St.

Waterbury Center: Nov. 23, 11 a.m. 3:30 p.m., Ivy Computer, 2933 Waterbury Stowe Road.

Go to redcross.org to sign up.

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