Last Updated on April 5, 2021
As COVID-19 vaccines continue rolling out, it’s natural to have questions about what you can and can’t do before and after receiving your shots. One common concern relates to the COVID vaccine and alcohol. Many people are asking, “Can you drink after the COVID vaccine?” And what about beforehand?
CDC and FDA guidelines for the vaccine do not mention alcohol, and volunteers for vaccine trials were not told to abstain from drinking. However, experts in other countries are advising people to avoid alcohol in the days before and after receiving a vaccine. And doctors across the nation encourage a cautious approach.
In this article, we’ll give you the basics about alcohol and immunity. We’ll also address what experts have to say about COVID-19 vaccines and alcohol.
Alcohol and Your Immune System
You’ve probably heard about the relationship between alcohol and immunity. Heavy drinking weakens your immune system, making it harder to fight off illness and infection. Alcohol interferes with nearly all cells of the immune system, including lowering the number of infection-fighting white blood cells.
According to research, heavy drinkers are more vulnerable1 to diseases like pneumonia, hepatitis, HIV, and tuberculosis. In fact, studies2 suggest that alcohol abuse makes people more susceptible to COVID-19 and increases the severity of the infection—particularly its impact on the lungs.
For these reasons, it’s best to avoid alcohol when you’re sick. Alcohol depresses your immune response, and you need your immune system firing on all cylinders to get better. Plus, alcohol dehydrates you, and we all know hydration is important when we’re under the weather. Symptoms of a hangover, such as fatigue, weakness, muscle aches, headaches, and nausea, can make you feel much worse than you already do.
Can You Drink After the COVID Vaccine?
Considering alcohol’s impact on the immune system and the human body, is it safe to drink before and after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
In the UK, experts have advised3 people receiving the vaccine not to drink immediately before and afterwards. Immunologist Dr. Sheena Cruickshank explained, “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.”
Meanwhile, Russian scientist Anna Popova4 caused a shock when she recommended that people quit drinking for two weeks before the vaccine and three weeks after. The developer of the vaccine, Dr. Alexander Gintsburg, contradicted this advice via Twitter5, saying that moderate consumption is fine and that he “advise[s] refraining from alcohol for 3 days after each injection, which applies to all vaccines.”
The United States has not released any official guidelines about COVID vaccines and alcohol. However, many doctors recommend watching your intake. Heavy alcohol consumption may worsen vaccine side effects. And people may confuse the effects of alcohol or a hangover with the effects of the vaccine.
COVID Vaccine and Alcohol: The Bottom Line
Ultimately, there’s no clear evidence that drinking alcohol will interfere with the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, it can make you feel worse after receiving your shots. And you run the risk of confusing hangover symptoms with the vaccine, and vice versa.
So, while “no drinking after the COVID vaccine” is not a hard and fast rule, most experts agree you should drink in moderation for a few days before and after. Moderation6 is considered one drink a day or less for women, and up to two drinks daily for men. After you’re vaccinated, focus on hydrating and resting as you give your body time to recover. If you want to celebrate your vaccinated status with cocktails, wait a few days—or limit your celebratory drink to one or two.
Help With Moderate Drinking During COVID-19
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching impact has been tough, especially for people vulnerable to addiction and mental health issues. If you find it challenging to drink in moderation, Ria Health can help. You don’t have to consider yourself an alcoholic to seek support for your drinking. You don’t even have to stop drinking entirely.
With Ria Health, you set your own personal goals, and we help you gain control over your relationship with alcohol. You can access all the tools you need, including anti-craving medication and online recovery coaching, from an app on your smartphone.