UNDATED (WJON News) -- Health officials are predicting a serious spread of seasonal illnesses this year, and the Red Cross is asking for donations to help prevent possible shortages.

During the flu season, the overall number of healthy donors drops, affecting blood supplies. Busy holiday schedules also leave people with less time to donate blood and platelets.

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With flu and RSV cases already spiking and Thanksgiving around the corner, donors are asked to give now so blood is available when people need it over the next few months. Officials say there is no waiting period for blood donation following a flu shot.

As an added incentive, the Red Cross is giving away various thank-you gifts to people who donate in November and December including gift cards and knit beanies.

You can schedule an appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

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