Covid Conspiracy Theorists Target Red Cross Blood Donations

blood donation red cross

If you’ve ever donated blood, you know part of the process is a lengthy — and slightly invasive — questionnaire regarding your medical, travel, and even sexual history. It’s a bit annoying, but helping maintain the national blood supply for medical emergencies is worth it. In 2021 the Red Cross issued guidelines that allow those who have received the Covid-19 vaccine to donate so long as they’re not actively experiencing symptoms from the vaccination.

Right-wing influencers have apparently just become aware of the policy — and are losing their minds. 

Right-wing influencer Rogan O’Handley, who has over a million followers on X, formerly Twitter, wrote on Tuesday that “the American Red Cross is now asking blood donors if they ever received the Covid vaccine. If you answer Yes, they want you to call ahead to see if you’re still eligible. I thought the vax was ‘safe and effective’? What info are they hiding from us?” 

Independent presidential candidate and long-time vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., boosted O’Handley’s post, writing: “The propaganda is beginning to unravel.” 

The Red Cross responded to O’Handley in a post later that day, clarifying that “individuals can donate blood after getting an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine as long as they are feeling well and symptom free at the time of donation.” The organization added that “donations from those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 are safe for transfusion. Similar to other vaccines such as measles, mumps or influenza, the COVID-19 vaccine is designed to generate an immune response to help protect an individual from illness. The vaccine components themselves are not found within the blood stream.” 

According to the Red Cross’ website, most vaccinated individuals do not require a waiting period before donation, only those who “received a live attenuated COVID-19 vaccine or do not know what type of COVID-19 vaccine they received must wait two weeks before giving blood.” The live attenuated vaccine is not commonly used within the United States.

Despite the policies having existed for years, and information on eligibility being readily available on the organization’s website or via their information line, right-wing conspiracy remain undeterred. 

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed later on Tuesday that the Red Cross is asking screener questions related to donor’s vaccination status in order to “separate out” and quietly “reject” blood from vaccinated donors. “The establishment doesn’t want to take blood that is creating these giant clots and had all this garbage added to it,” Jones falsely claimed, repeating widely debunked myths the Covid-19 vaccines are “killing people en-masse,” a common belief among vaccine skeptics.

On Wednesday, right-wing commentator Steven Crowder released audio of a phone call between an “undercover journalist” and the Red Cross information line. “Official tells undercover journalist they DO NOT SEPARATE donated blood based on COVID-19 vaccination status; ADMITS unvaccinated recipients can UNWITTINGLY RECEIVE blood from vaccinated donors. THIS. IS. INSANE,” Crowder wrote. 

In the clip, the Red Cross employee tells the caller that blood is not separated based on vaccination status — a policy in line with the organization’s general treatment of vaccinations — and that if an individual wanted to personally screen out for vaccines they should bank their own blood or seek personal donations from known individuals. In another call, a second representative says individuals experiencing long-term symptoms following a vaccination may be rejected from the donor pool. Long term side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine have been studied and are considered rare.  


Dr. Simone Gold, the founder of the Covid-19 conspiracy group America’s Frontline Doctors and a convicted Jan. 6 rioter, wrote Wednesday on X that the “American Red Cross is now asking blood donors if they ever received the COVID-19 vaccine, and if you answer ‘Yes’, you must call them to check if you are still eligible to donate. Do you still believe this vaccine is ‘safe and effective’?” 

The extremely uninformed outrage is part of a larger, ongoing hysteria by online conspiracy theorists over maintaining “pure” bodily fluids by refusing vaccinations. As previously reported by Rolling Stone, users on the struggling far-right platform Gettr went so far as to attempt to create a digital marketplace for the sale of unvaccinated sperm. Now, they could be potentially refusing life-saving blood transfusions because of the possibility that the donor received a vaccine. 

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