LifeStream Blood Bank said Wednesday that its new rule requiring employees and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours was driven by policy at local hospitals.

LifeStream spokesman Don Escalante told City News Service on Wednesday that the decision was made primarily because hospitals now have the same policy for visitors. Escalante also confirmed that the requirement extends to all LifeStream employees, not just volunteers who will be visiting hospitals to deliver blood products.

“Our hospitals now require LifeStream representatives to have received a COVID vaccination or to supply proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of visiting their facilities,” LifeStream’s president/CEO and medical director Dr. Rick Axelrod said in a statement released Tuesday.

Interested volunteers must have a clean driving record as well as proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test.

LifeStream announced in June it was facing an “extreme” shortage of donated blood, putting the nonprofit at risk of not having enough supply for area hospitals. Blood donations typically decline in the summer months.

Blood collected through donations to LifeStream flows to more than 80 hospitals in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego counties.

Donors who have received a COVID-19 vaccine may need to provide the manufacturer’s name when they donate blood. In most cases, there is no deferral time for individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Donors must be at least 15 years old, weigh at least 115 pounds, be free from infections or illnesses and not be at risk of having AIDS or hepatitis. Those under 17 years old must bring written consent from a parent.

Appointments are recommended and can be made by calling 800-879-4484 or at www.lstream.org.

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