Rule changes, coughs, colds, and Christmas

Winter is coming! Coughs, colds and (whisper it) Christmas are on their way, but the need for blood, plasma and platelets never stops. So, to help you carry on donating through the dark depths of winter, here's what you need to know:

Coughs and colds

Whether it’s a cough or cold, seasonal sickness is never fun and hard to avoid. If you can’t attend an appointment because of illness, please let us know as soon as possible. You can reschedule your donation easily using your online account or by calling us on 0300 123 23 23.

Our staff sometimes get sick, too, meaning we may sometimes have to cancel appointments. We understand how disappointing this can be, so please understand that we do it for your safety and only as a last resort. We’ll always encourage you to book another appointment at your earliest convenience.

If you have received a vaccine for Covid-19, please wait at least 48 hours before donating. If you had side effects from the vaccine such as headache, temperature, aches and chills, please wait until these symptoms have passed before donating.

You can donate after having a flu jab, including on the same day, as long you feel completely well. If you have had the flu jab as a priority because of underlying health issues, please check that it is okay for you to donate with those.

A blood donor and NHS Blood and Transplant donor carer
If you can book an appointment during the festive period or in the new year, please do.


Travelling to be with family, having fun with friends, and the dreaded Christmas shopping can all make the festive period exceptionally busy. That, in turn, makes it harder for people to donate. Every year, stock levels of blood, plasma and platelets to help those in need drop at this time of year.

If you can book an appointment during the festive period or in the new year, please do. Blood, plasma, and platelets are needed all year round. Last-minute appointments often become available due to cancellations, so please keep checking for slots in your area if you haven’t been able to book a convenient appointment.

If you have an appointment, please keep it. With a rise in cancelled appointments in winter, it’s especially important that you attend yours. If you can’t attend, letting us know as soon as possible will help to make sure the slot can be taken and lives can be saved.

Children at donation venues

In September 2023, we introduced new rules around children at donation venues. If you bring anyone aged 16 and under with you to a donation session, they must be accompanied by another adult who is not donating. If both adults want to donate, you will need to book your appointments at least an hour apart.

These rules are based on the advice of other UK blood collection services and the NSPCC.

You can read more about the rule changes here.