Can you drink after the Covid vaccine? It’s a question coming up everyday, now that over 41 million people have had their second dose.
The NHS and the government have hailed the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford vaccines as the sure-fire way out of the pandemic and towards a return to normality. It’s no surprise that people may want to celebrate getting their doses with a drink or two.
Whether or not you drink after your vaccine is completely at your own discretion. We’ve looked into what the experts have said, so you can make up you own mind. Some evidence is very clear, however. If you do decide to drink after your vaccination, be sure not to go too overboard and stop drinking if you think you’ve had too much.
Can you drink after the Covid vaccine?
Some experts have urged people not drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine, as it may potentially reduce the vaccine’s efficacy.
Chair of Drinkaware‘s medical advisory panel, Dr Fiona Sim, said in a statement recently, “As far as alcohol is concerned, we advise that you consider not drinking for two days before, and up to two weeks after you’ve been vaccinated, to try and ensure your immune system is at its best to respond to the vaccine.”
But Dr Sim also urged people to get the vaccine when possible, regardless of whether they consume alcohol or not. “We would reassure anybody who has already been vaccinated and has had an occasional drink since, that they should still benefit from the vaccination,” she said. “And we would stress the importance of attending your appointment for the second dose when it comes around.”
There is plenty of evidence to show that heavy alcohol consumption could inhibit the body’s immune response following vaccination. Existing research on alcohol and the immune system shows that excessive alcohol consumption acts as an immunosuppressant. This means that people who drink a lot are not only more susceptible to infections, including Covid-19, but their bodies may not respond as effectively to the vaccine.
A recent Alcohol Research review also found, without a doubt, excessive alcohol consumption leads to “adverse immune-related health effects”. This includes impeding the body’s ability to fight against infection. In turn, this leads to a slower and less complete recovery from the infection.
While much of the research on the Covid-vaccine has been conducted first-hand, like the studies into whether children should have the coronavirus vaccine, the cautionary advice to stay away from alcohol post-vaccination comes from other studies on vaccines more generally.
There is no evidence to suggest that drinking alcohol interferes with the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines specifically.
Both the NHS and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) have confirmed this, which in turn, has prompted the government to assure people they can return to their normal lives post-vaccination. “You should be able to resume activities that are normal for you as long as you feel well,” the government’s website reads.
Other vaccine experts agree; there’s nothing wrong with having a few pints to celebrate your vaccination.
“There’s no evidence that drinking alcohol interferes with the efficacy of the vaccine, although you might feel a bit unwell after you have it,” Dr Jonas Nilsen, founder of the vaccination specialists Practio, says. “Headaches, muscle and joint pain as well as nausea are common side effects of the coronavirus vaccines, so drinking alcohol could make you feel even worse.
“We’ve had many reports of fainting during or shortly after vaccination at our vaccination centres, so one thing that is essential is that people eat and drink something before they go to their vaccination appointments. We also give people a full bottle of water and recommend they drink it before they receive the vaccine.”
Can you drink before the Covid vaccine?
The general advice is not to drink before having the Covid-19 vaccine.
There are logistical issues, of course, with having one too many before going to get your Covid vaccination. Safety issues include those involved with travelling to and from the vaccination centre. Before having the vaccine, you must be able to coherently answer questions about whether you have any symptoms of coronavirus. New symptoms of Covid-19 have been linked to the Delta variant, so vaccinators will also be aware of these.
Having the ability to consent to the vaccine is required before vaccination. Most people give their informed consent by turning up to the vaccination centre and in the pre-vaccine interaction with the health professionals on site, but the law and regulations around administering non-lifesaving medical care to people who are drunk is hazy – and mainly refers to doctors. It’s unlikely, therefore, that vaccinators will inject someone who has had a few drinks.
It’s also a good idea to avoid doing anything that may cause or worsen potential side effects of the vaccine.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
The most common side effects of the vaccine are similar to those associated with a hangover. They include:
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Body aches
- Feeling nauseous or actually being sick
Above all, the most common side effect is having a sore arm. According to a symptom study using data from Kings College London, this accounted for just over 66% of all people who reported a side effect following their vaccination. However, one in four vaccinated individuals reported one of the above side effects.
There are very few hangover cures, apart from paracetamol, that work for vaccine side effects. So, it’s best to delay a celebratory night out until a couple of days after your vaccination.