This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: Aug. 6, 2021
News recently spread that Russian health officials are advising those receiving the Sputnik vaccine to avoid alcohol for two months. As coronavirus vaccines begin rolling out around the world, citizens of other countries have a pressing question on their minds: Can you drink alcohol after receiving the coronavirus vaccine?
Alcohol consumption may dampen the body’s ability to respond to the vaccine, according to experts. Depending on the type and the amount of alcohol consumed, it could severely impact the vaccine’s efficacy, and others say alcohol could make allergic reactions even worse. While some experts are advising limiting consumption rather than an outright cessation, others believe a dry period of up to two months is advisable.
Evidence shows that long-term alcohol use can dampen your immune system. During the pandemic, most countries have reported an uptick in alcohol purchases, as isolated adults drown their boredom in booze, and Americans are no exception (a study taken in late 2020 showed that 75% of Americans had been drinking at least one more day per month than before the pandemic).
A 2012 study out of Sweden found that “low to moderate” alcohol consumption suppressed participants’ response to a vaccine against bacterial pneumonia. A “low to moderate” amount of alcohol was classified as “an average intake of less than 30 grams a day, about the same as three vodkas,” according to New Scientist.
Most studies appear to agree that the more alcohol you consume, the weaker your immune response will be. Those consuming smaller amounts of alcohol—particularly in the days leading up to and immediately after getting the vaccine—will likely see less effect.
One professor from the U.K. concurred, telling Metro that “You need to have your immune system working tip-top to have a good response to the vaccine, so if you’re drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that’s not going to help.”
Plus, if you’re experiencing side effects from the vaccine while also being hungover from alcohol, that will make an unpleasant experience even more painful.
Others, though, disagree. “There is no need to abstain from alcohol after either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Sandro Cinti, an infectious disease specialist at Michigan Medicine, told Healthline. “There is no evidence or CDC guidance to suggest that this needs to be done.”
And the New York Times noted, “Some studies have even found that over the longer term, small or moderate amounts of alcohol might actually benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation.”
If you’re having side effects from the vaccine, it’s also probably best to abstain from alcohol. “Let’s say in 24 hours you feel back to normal, that’s great,” Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist and allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, told Pop Sugar. “But if you’re having side effects after the vaccine for 48 hours, then I wouldn’t add more fuel to the fire.”
Chronic drinkers are a different story, as they likely already suffer from a weakened immune system. A far stricter dry period may be necessary to ensure the vaccine can effectively offer immunity.
Regardless of your history with alcohol, it seems that a short period of sobriety is advisable (even if Samuel Adams and Budweiser are offering free beer). Taking at least three days off from drinking before you receive the first dose of vaccine and at least the same amount of time on the other end will help the vaccine to more effectively inoculate you against COVID-19. Maybe do the same with marijuana if it’s possible.
Instead of alcohol, here’s something else that might be more effective against COVID-19: Getting enough sleep. And perhaps Tylenol or Advil after you receive the vaccine. Oh, and hold off and going to any “mask off” parties. But feel free to get your free Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Neither Pfizer nor Moderna currently have any recommendations regarding alcohol consumption and their vaccines, and according to Forbes, those who participated in the Pfizer vaccine trials were not told to abstain from drinking. It’s also unclear if Johnson & Johnson, which was approved in the U.S. at the end of February, or the new Novavax vaccine that could be approved in April, will have any recommendations for alcohol.
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