As more Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, there are questions about what you should or shouldn’t do in the days leading up to your shot. And what about after?
A celebratory glass of wine may be top of mind for those who are newly vaccinated and, so far, there’s no official guidance or recommendation about avoiding alcohol before or after getting a prick in the arm.
That’s not to say people shouldn’t think twice before knocking back a few drinks, considering the potential side effects from any of the three available coronavirus vaccines.
“Symptoms from the immune response to the vaccine, like fever, body aches and others, are all common,” said Angela Hewlett, MD, an infectious disease physician at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “Heavy drinking may increase these side effects, making you feel worse. Bottom line – a celebratory drink is probably OK, but celebrate in moderation.”
Richard Watkins, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, also told Prevention magazine there’s currently “no evidence that alcohol reduces the formation of antibodies.”
Newly vaccinated individuals should still watch their alcohol intake, he said, or run the risk of compounding hangover symptoms with the flu-like side effects of the vaccine — making the experience much “less pleasant.”
Binge drinking or excessive alcohol use, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as consuming four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks for men, can be detrimental to your overall health.
Dr. Christopher Thompson, who specializes in immunology Loyola University Maryland’s Department of Biology, pointed to alcohol’s effects on the immune system and said excessive drinking should be avoided “for at least a week before the first dose,” according to Healthline.
Overseas, Russian health officials have also taken a hardened stance against mixing alcohol and the COVID-19 vaccine, Alexander Gintsburg, PhD, who helped develop the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, has advised citizens to avoid drinking for at least three days after each dose, Healthline reported.
Dr. Fiona Sim, who chairs the independent medical advisory panel for the UK alcohol education charity “Drinkware,” offered a similar suggestion: those who plan to get vaccinated should abstain from drinking two days before the shot and at least two weeks afterward, according to British outlet “i” news.
Also, Sims said heavy drinkers are at increased risk of becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19, so getting vaccinated is important.
“Long term heavy drinking reduces immune protection, and specifically for respiratory infections, which include Covid-19,” she said, according to “i,” adding: “We would reassure anybody who has already been vaccinated and has had an occasional drink since, that they should still benefit from the vaccination.”
So while a cocktail or two likely won’t cause much harm, experts advise keeping your daily alcohol intake within daily recommended guidelines if you’re getting inoculated.