(BCN)– The American Red Cross said this week that healthy donors are urgently needed to bolster the organization’s blood supply to prepare for a possible severe flu season. The organization is offering incentives to would-be donors if they make an appointment to give blood between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15.

Those incentives include $10 e-gift cards, or a Red Cross knitted beanie, depending on the dates of donation. The Red Cross said that it is especially important to bolster the blood supply now because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted there will be a serious spread of the flu virus this year.

Combined with other seasonal illnesses, that could put strain on the blood supply. The Red Cross said that it’s much harder to collect the blood that hospital patients will need this winter due to busy holiday schedules and an increase in seasonal illnesses, which decrease the supply of healthy donors.

Donors with type O blood and those giving platelets are especially encouraged to give this winter, according to the Red Cross. Type O negative blood is the most common type of blood used for transfusions when the blood type is unknown.

Type O positive is given to patients more than any blood type and is considered the “most needed” blood type, according to the Red Cross. Platelets are in constant demand because they only last for five days.

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Potential donors must be in good health and feeling well, be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. There is no waiting period to donate blood or platelets after receiving most vaccines, including flu and COVID-19, providing that donors are symptom-free, fever-free and feeling well.

Donors can schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). People can learn more about flu safety and prevention at redcross.org/flusafety. 

For available incentives, go to rcblood.org/perks.

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