The American Red Cross is in critical need of blood donations right now. Here's how to donate

The American Red Cross is in critical need of blood donations.

(CNN)Despite the country slowly opening up after a year of Covid-19 restrictions, the amount of blood donations needed has stayed in high demand.

American Red Cross chief medical officer Dr. Pampee Young said the organization is in critical need of blood and platelet donations.
"The demand for blood never goes away because it's got a shelf life, and we're constantly having to replenish," Young said.
    Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days while platelets have a shelf life of 5 days, according to the American Red Cross.
      There are eight different blood types, and humans can only receive certain types of blood that are compatible with their own. If they receive incompatible blood, their body will reject it and they could potentially die. The one exception is O- blood, which is compatible with all other blood types.
        American Red Cross said they need about 12,500 blood donations and 2,700 platelet donations per day for around 2,500 hospitals and other facilities in the United States.
        Young, who has spent more than 15 years in the medical field, shared how to safely donate blood during the pandemic.
          This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
          CNN: Why is the need to donate blood so critical right now?
          Dr. Pampee Young: We continue to be affected by Covid-19, so roughly 1,000 drives around the country are canceled per month, which impacts 30,000 units of blood collections every month. That pressure and continued impact of Covid-19 is something that we are continuously struggling to deal with and ensure that we collect enough blood for our patients.
          Particularly right now, Type O blood is in the most demand. It's the most requested by our hospitals because they support pediatrics, trauma and the majority of our population.
          CNN: What safety measures are in place at blood donation sites?
          Young: We have implemented the highest standards of safety and infection control. An example of that are temperature checks for both staff and donors prior to entering a blood drive or donation center. We have abundant hand sanitizer throughout the facility and encourage people to use it throughout the donation process. We social distance whenever possible and donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arrival. This is for us to ensure that we manage the flow of donors and can ensure social distancing.
          We are constantly scheduling new blood drives to try to make up for the canceled ones. The easiest way to sign up is to download the free American Red Cross blood donor app, visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
          CNN: If I've had Covid-19, can I donate blood?
          Young: Yes, you can donate blood, but you have to be fully recovered. We require that all our donors are healthy and feeling well at the time of donation, so that means someone must be at least 14 days outside of their last day of Covid-19 symptoms.
          Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter

          Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

            CNN: If I've received the vaccine, can I donate blood?
            Young: Yes, there's absolutely no deferral period for all the vaccines that are currently approved under the emergency-use authorization. This includes the Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In addition, should AstraZeneca and Novavax be approved, they would also have no waiting period. Some vaccines internationally require a two-week waiting period before you can donate blood, so if you received your vaccine abroad, it's best to wait a couple of weeks.