AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - As the flu becomes more widespread in Central Texas, we are seeing school districts temporarily shut down. But, it's also affecting our blood supply. We Are Blood says they're critically low on O-Negative blood. And, the ongoing flu season is partly to blame.
Wednesday afternoon we learned Lexington ISD has canceled classes the rest of this week and on Monday because of an increased number of absences due to the flu. And Lago Vista ISD was forced to cancel classes last month because of a suspected flu outbreak as well.
Because of the flu there's been a decrease in blood donations at local blood banks.
More than 40 hospitals and medical facilities in 10 counties in Central Texas depend on blood supply at We Are Blood. But right now, their steady flow of donors has been put on pause.
Nick Canedo VP of Community Engagement at We Are Blood says, "Right now coming of the cold snap and the higher occurrences of flu outbreak in Central Texas we're experiencing a downward turn in donations, and donor activity. At mobile blood drives we're seeing higher levels of deferrals and missed appointments."
He adds, "When you're not feeling well for the flu or any other reason you might be unable to donate. With school closures it's especially concerning for us because high school blood drives are some of our largest blood drives that we hold across our service area."
Canedo says blood drives provide more than half of donations they collect, that are needed to treat people. To meet the community need for blood transfusions, they need to collect upwards of 200 donations every single day. Adding, "Especially the critical O negative, we're half of what we usually like to see in our inventory."
As far as high school blood drives that have been scheduled, Canedo says they haven't had to cancel any because of flu outbreak, but it's something they're definitely concerned about.
And they're thinking of next month, too. "So blood collections during March will be especially challenging this year because Spring Break and South by Southwest do not align so that's two weeks where people may be too busy to come in and donate. So stocking blood right now and donors come in preparation is incredibly important,” Canedo says.
You can go to weareblood.org to sign up to donate. It takes less than an hour and appointments can be made any day of the week. We Are Blood also takes walk-ins.