Blood Drives on Campus, Starting May 21

Two donors, 6 feet apart, at blood drive
Davis campus donors will be 6 feet apart — like at this drive held at UC Davis Health — and will have masks on. This photo was taken in March before donors were required to wear face masks. (Wayne Tilcock/UC Davis)

Updated 8:30 a.m. May 19: As of this update, appointments were still available for the Vitalant blood drives this Thursday and Friday, May 21 and 22. For next week’s American Red Cross drives, all appointments had been spoken for.

Posted April 29: Blood drives are returning to the Davis campus. Four collection days are scheduled: Thursday-Friday, May 21-22 and May 28-29. Appointments are required and can be arranged now.

The drives are open to all: students, staff and faculty who are still on campus, and other UC Davis affiliates who wish to come, and the community as well.

Two blood banks will each conduct two drives: Vitalant, which traditionally runs blood drives on the Davis campus throughout the year; and the American Red Cross, which has been holding blood drives on the Sacramento campus during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vitalant and the American Red Cross follow social distancing protocol — that is, collection stations are at least 6 feet apart from one another. Also, by requiring appointments, the blood banks can limit the number of people who are on-site. Additionally, donors must wear masks.

All four campus drives will be in The Pavilion at the Activities and Recreation Center. Transportation Services will sponsor free parking in Lot 25 in front of the ARC.

Here are the blood drive details:


  • Thursday-Friday, May 21-22
  • 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days
  • Bring your own cloth-based face covering. (Given limited supplies, Vitalant is unable to provide masks to every donor at this time.)
  • Appointments can be arranged online. Click on the date you prefer: May 21 or May 22, then select your appointment time.

American Red Cross

  • Thursday-Friday, May 28-29
  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. both days
  • Face masks will be provided.
  • Appointments can be arranged online. Enter the UC Davis ZIP code, 95616, in the box in the upper right-hand corner of the landing page. The next page will show the May 28 and 29 blood drives. Choose the date you prefer, then click on “See Times” to make your appointment.


The minimum age to donate is 16 (at that age, however, you must have a consent form signed by parent or guardian). Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health. See complete eligibility requirements:

As of today (April 29), neither Vitalant nor the American Red Cross had implemented the Food and Drug Administration’s revised recommendations on donor eligibility, as announced April 2, including a shortened deferral period for men who have sex with men, or MSM, setting three months (instead of 12) as the length of time they must wait to give blood after last having sex with another man.

“Based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, the FDA has concluded that current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria can be modified without compromising the safety of the blood supply,” the FDA said in a news release.

The agency recommended immediate implementation to address a dramatic reduction in donations due to social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives amid the coronavirus outbreak. The FDA said it expected to keep the revisions in place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“Vitalant supports and appreciates the FDA’s recent policy change to a three-month deferral for men who have sex with men,” Meredith Spencer, manager of donor recruitment, said in an email to Dateline UC Davis. “Through our affirmative and transformational research, our goal has always been to rationalize deferral policies, based on data-gathering, assessment of international best practices and community consultation. We celebrate alongside LGBTQ+ community members now able to join us in our life-saving mission and give back to the communities they love.

“We are working diligently to implement the operational changes required to determine donor eligibility in line with the numerous new FDA guideline changes, but this will not happen overnight. The timeline is expected to be several months. ... Due diligence is needed to align the process from donor information changes and questionnaire validation to computer controls.”

After encouraging the FDA last November to cut the MSM deferral period to three months, the Red Cross had this to say when the revised recommendations came out April 2: “Consistent with our Red Cross position, this is the first and important step toward a greater goal of an equitable blood donation process that treats all potential donors with equality and respect, and ensures a safe, sufficient blood supply is readily available for patients in need.

“The Red Cross remains committed to building an inclusive environment that embraces diversity for all those who engage with our lifesaving mission and does not believe blood donation eligibility should be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.

The Red Cross said it “will work aggressively to implement the many eligibility changes outlined by the FDA as soon as possible,” noting that “this process includes potentially thousands of individuals and involves complex system updates that will take time to implement.”

Chancellor’s statement

On April 15, 2019, Chancellor Gary S. May issued a statement about blood drives on campus, acknowledging “those in our community who would participate, were they not barred by federal restrictions on blood donations by men who have had sex with men.”

“UC Davis strongly supports the development of evidence-based policies that would allow blood donations from all who are safely able to give. UC Davis — and I personally — stand strongly against all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. By using those traits as a proxy for risk, the FDA’s policy unnecessarily prevents some of our fellow students, staff and faculty from joining in this important and generous community effort.”

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