Russians who get vaccinated for COVID-19 can’t drink alcohol for 2 months

Russian alcohol which is not allowed after taking the COVID vaccine
Photo via Sergei F/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Consuming alcohol may suppress the immune system
  • Alcohol consumption could also mask symptoms of the vaccine itself
  • Russia is the world’s fourth-largest alcohol-consuming country

People getting vaccinated in the world’s fourth-largest alcohol-consuming nation are being advised to avoid drinking alcohol for at least two months. News of the advised dry period for people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Russia comes just weeks before New Year’s Eve, a holiday that is commonly celebrated through heavy alcohol consumption. 

Anna Popova, the head of consumer watchdog organization Rospotrebnadzor, joined with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova in stating that patients should refrain from drinking alcohol and taking immunosuppressant drugs for at least 42 days following a COVID-19 vaccine injection, while they build up a resistance. They also advised protections such as mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, and using hand sanitizer.

Similar to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine has a follow-up booster shot scheduled 21 days after the first injection. The vaccine’s developer, Alexander Gintsberg, shared contradictory advice to that stated by Popova and Golikova, according to Reuters. The Sputnik V Twitter account shared a gif of Leonardo DiCaprio toasting with a glass of champagne. “One glass of champagne won’t hurt anyone, not even your immune system’, said Dr Gintsburg, developer of the #SputnikV vaccine,” the Tweet’s caption reads.

Despite the tweet, Gintsberg did suggest significantly reducing alcohol consumption, according to Reuters, especially in the few days before and after receiving any vaccine. 

Advice regarding drinking after a vaccine was nearly nonexistent before COVID-19, as is apparent in a Columbia University Go Ask Alice post. Such advice was typically left up to doctors and their patients, not issued by government authorities. Evidence suggests, however, that the immune system can be suppressed by consumption of alcohol. Consuming alcohol may also mask symptoms of the vaccine itself.

World Health Organization data shows that the average Russian consumes about four gallons of alcohol each year, so the advice may prove nearly impossible to follow.

Sources: New York Post, Reuters, Columbia University Go Ask Alice, World Health Organization

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