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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If you’ve already been sick with COVID-19, you may have to wait longer to get the new vaccine. It’s sparking renewed interest in antibody testing to determine if you might have been exposed to the virus.

Community Blood Center is now offering expanded opportunities for you to get antibody testing.  The center’s now done at least 4,000 of the screenings. 

The results could help blood center donors determine both when they might want to get the COVID-19 vaccine and their ability to help the sickest patients fighting the virus right now.

Blood, plasma and platelet donations continue to be desperately needed as the number of donors have dropped, but demand has increased during the pandemic.

“Extra blood donations, extra platelet donations, extra plasma donations throughout this holiday period is what we need, what our hospitals need as well,” said Chelsey Smith, Community Blood Center of Great Kansas City’s outreach and communications coordinator.

Jody Stoskopf donates a couple times a year.

“My stepfather had heart issues several years ago and had to have lots of blood transfusions, and that’s really the first time I started donating was because of him,” Stoskopf said.

This time, she’s getting an added bonus. Community Blood Center of Greater Kansas City is now giving all blood, platelet and plasma donors the COVID-19 antibody test.

“That’s been something our donors have been asking for for quite a while, and we’re grateful we’re able to offer that to them now,” Smith said. “It’s definitely been a driving force from a lot of the extra donations we’ve seen coming in the past couple weeks.”

The antibody test requires a small blood sample and will tell donors if they’ve had COVID-19 at any point and developed some level of immunity to the virus as a result. Stoskopf’s anxious to see what her test reveals.

“If they tell me I have the antibodies, then I guess that means I had it at some point that I didn’t know, never had any symptoms,” she said.

As guidelines are crafted for who gets the COVID-19 vaccine and when, experts say it’s possible anyone who’s had coronavirus could get bumped further back in line.  

Stoskopf hasn’t decided if she’ll get the shot when it’s available.  

But Community Blood Center said the results of the antibody test are incredibly valuable in another way: to determine eligibility for donating convalescent plasma, which can be used to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“That’s why we’re doing this testing right now is for the purpose of identifying donors in our community who are eligible to donate convalescent plasma, so we can provide more treatment for our hospitals, especially in times like now when we’re spiking, our cases are spiking,” Smith said.

Many primary care doctors are also encouraging patients to get the antibody test during routine blood screenings.  

If you’d like to get tested, Community Blood Center will be offering it with donations at its donor centers through Jan. 31. Several mobile blood drives, listed below, will offer it next month as well.

Drive Time:Account:Drive Address:
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.Spirit of GivingWestridge Mall – 800 S.W. Lane, Topeka, KS 66611
9 a.m. – 6 p.m.Lawrence Community at Maceli’sMaceli’s – 1031 New Hampshire St., Lawrence, KS 66044
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.Overland Park Convention CenterOverland Park Convention Center – 6000 College Blvd., Overland Park, KS 66211
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.Sporting Kansas CityChildren’s Mercy Park – One Sporting Way, Kansas City, KS 66111
9 a.m. – 7 p.m.Maryville CommunityFirst Baptist Church – 121 E. Jenkins St., Maryville, MO 64468
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.Eastern Jackson County CommunityStoney Creek Hotel – 18011 Bass Pro Drive, Independence, MO 64055

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, along with experts at the University of Kansas Health System, said even patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies should consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

That’s because although you might have some immunity to the virus, experts don’t know how much or how long it lasts. Studies indicate the vaccine offers a much higher protection/immune response to coronavirus than you have without the vaccination.