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Can you drink alcohol before getting the covid-19 vaccine?

Health officials recommend avoiding a tipple before you get your covid-19 vaccine shot to keep your immune system and body in tip-top shape.

Health officials recommend avoiding a tipple before you get your covid-19 vaccine shot to keep your immune system and body in tip-top shape.
Jeff J MitchellGetty Images

Just under 2.5 million Americans are being vaccinated every day on average and before people go out to get their shot they are wondering; Is it safe to drink before getting the jab? Although having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner won’t be the end of the world, health experts recommend holding off.

Likewise, best not to go out for a drink afterward, or stay in and celebrate with a drink either, at least not right away. Since side effects from any vaccine are common, that drink may only make you feel worse should you have a reaction.

What the experts say about drinking and vaccinations

The recommendation from health experts is to abstain for a few days before and after the covid-19 vaccine, which applies to all vaccinations. Sheena Cruickshank, PhD, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, told UK Metro "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."

This follows the guidance made public by the World Health Organization (WHO) on drinking during the pandemic. The WHO stressed that “Alcohol use, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system and thus reduces the ability to cope with infectious diseases.”

That said you don’t need total long-term abstinence as was first suggested by Anna Popova, head of the consumer health watchdog in Russia. In December she said people shouldn’t drink alcohol for at least two weeks before getting the first of two injections of the Sputnik V covid-19 vaccine. Then people should continue to abstain for a further 42 days afterward. This caused quite the uproar and that advice was contradicted the following day by Alexander Gintsburg, the vaccine’s developer on the official Sputnik V Twitter channel.

Alcohol causes dehydration which can intensify some of the common side effects of the covid-19 vaccine which are fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. While some people have minimal or no vaccine side effects, getting a reaction to a vaccineis common and just your body showing signs that it’s learning how to defend itself. Most side effects can be safely alleviated.

When is it safe to drink after taking the covid-19 vaccine?

The main issue with drinking and vaccination is moderation, with many of the potential side effects to the covid-19 vaccine being similar to that of a hangover. There hasn’t been specific research on how alcohol interacts with the vaccine but abstaining for those who don’t use alcohol excessively is likely unnecessary. Medical experts have said that a moderate amount is probably safe, perhaps even beneficial.

One medical study showed, in monkeys at least, that their immune systems were boosted with moderate alcohol consumption, but harmed by heavy drinking. However, the researchers did not recommend people start to drink based on the findings, especially if someone has a history of alcohol abuse. The downsides of drinking too much far outweigh any potential benefits.

So before you get your vaccine, maybe hold off on that drink for a few days. Before and after you get vaccinated, nutritionists recommend being well hydrated, getting a good night's sleep and eating a balanced diet to help your immune system work to its fullest potential and give your body what it needs to ride out any side effects you may encounter.