With millions of people getting vaccinated every day and President Joe Biden saying that vaccines will be available to all American adults in May, we can see the light at the end of the (very long!) tunnel. However, scientists and health experts alike have noticed a significant uptick in the amount of people who are heavily drinking alcohol in the pandemic, and they’re worried that binge-drinking and frequent alcohol consumption leading up to a vaccination or right after getting one may end up lowering the effectiveness of those shots.
Is your alcohol consumption potentially affecting your vaccine’s efficacy, or are you out of the woods? Here’s what you need to know.
How is the Covid vaccine affected by alcohol?
There’s a simple explanation for why health experts are cautioning people against heavy drinking around the weeks before and after getting a Covid vaccine: alcohol naturally weakens the immune system. A large body of work has shown that alcohol has the potential to block key immune pathways, hamper the production of crucial white blood cells, and restrict your body’s ability to fight infections. Not to mention, alcohol can slowly lead to organ damage and make tissue repair more difficult, both of which can create a longer road to recovery if you do get sick.
While alcohol won’t directly impact your body’s ability to produce Covid antibodies, it can make you more susceptible to other illnesses as well as more severe side effects of the Covid vaccine, like fever, chills, aches, and more. In other words, you could be making your experience a lot harder than it needs to be — and potentially less safe.
How many drinks can you have when getting your Covid vaccine?
Overall, a glass of wine at dinner or the occasional beer or cocktail won’t harm your immune system or ruin the efficacy of your Covid vaccine. Even having a single drink the night before receiving your Covid vaccine won’t mess anything up. What you have to watch out for, however, are nights of four or five alcoholic drinks, especially if it’s a regular occurrence.
Just remember: those couple of drinks are going to taste so much better when you’re able to enjoy them in person with friends in a few short months once you’re all vaccinated. Let’s look forward to that!