CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—As we enter the third year of the pandemic, there’s another problem hitting hospitals around the nation.

There is an unprecedented blood shortage. The shortage has the American Red Cross declaring an emergency blood crisis. Blood is needed for trauma victims, labor & delivery, transplant patients and other conditions.

There are a variety of reasons why those blood donations are down ranging from staffing shortages to the fact that many school-based drives have been scaled back. The weather has been a factor too. But there are also misconceptions out there about who can and can’t give.

“It is simple and easy,” said David Fisher, a long time blood donor. He attended a donation event Wednesday. “There is no reason not to do it. There is nothing to be afraid of.” Fisher registers online before coming in to donate. The survey asks basic health questions and there are questions about COVID-19. “There is a question that asks you if you’ve been vaccinated,” he said.

While the Red Cross needs that information as part of your medical history it does not influence your ability to donate. “The question is there just to have identification of whether the antibodies may be in the blood,” explained Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer at American Red Cross West Virginia Region. “Also, that said, whether you have had the vaccination or not you are certainly eligible to come and donate blood.”

The Red Cross does need to know which vaccine you received. But as long as you are healthy you can give.

“Whether you have recently had a vaccination or not, as long as you are feeling healthy you can come out and donate blood. Even if you have had COVID as long as that has passed and you are healthy come on in and help us end this blood crisis,” Mani said.

It is an effort that Fisher says he is happy to help. “I don’t see any reason not to donate blood,” he said.

To help encourage people to donate, the Red Cross is entering donors in a drawing to win prizes like football tickets and entertainment systems.