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Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol Before and After Getting the COVID Vaccine

Experts are being cautious about booze and its impact on your immune system during the vaccination process.
clinking wine glass and beer bottle

We all know that keeping our immune systems strong during the COVID-19 pandemic is of the utmost importance. And now that vaccines are, slowly but surely, rolling out, it should still remain a top priority, especially in regards to monitoring and even potentially reducing your alcohol intake if you've been drinking too much.

Research has shown that binge drinking—defined by the CDC as 4+ drinks for women and 5+ drinks for men during one occasion—can negatively impact your immune system. For instance, a 2015 study published in the journal Alcohol found that a single bout of binge drinking increases inflammation in just a few hours and inhibits your body's ability to regulate its immune system and effectively fight off infection for up to days afterward. Alcohol also puts more stress on the body, making it more difficult to recover from being under the weather, experts say. (Speaking of, here is the biggest sign you're drinking too much alcohol, according to doctors.)

Perhaps this is why scientists around the world are being cautious about drinking before and after getting the COVID-19 vaccine—a crucial time when your body is responding to the dose and building up its defenses against the virus.

Last month, a health official in Russia instructed citizens not to drink for two weeks before and six weeks after getting the country's Sputnick V vaccine, Reuters reports. However, the actual developer of the vaccine, Dr. Alexander Gintsburg, later tweeted to clarify that he believed that recommendation was too extreme, and that recipients should not drink for three days before and three days after being vaccinated (regardless of vaccine type). "One glass of champagne won't hurt anyone, not even your immune system," he also tweeted from the Sputnick V account on Dec. 9.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a health expert recommended people limit their alcohol intake one day before and one day after vaccination, Business Insider reports.

However, experts here in the U.S. are singing a different tune. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider, "There's no evidence that, if you have one beer or a glass of wine a couple days after you get your vaccine, that's going to interfere with your immune response or protection following the vaccine. When that point is stated in such an extreme way, I think it's actually damaging to public health."

In other words, so long as you're drinking in moderation and consuming less than what's considered heavy or bingeing, you don't have to be overly concerned about your consumption before and after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

However, if you've been drinking heavily (more than one drink per day for women and more than two for men), you should consider cutting back now—regardless of whether or not you're getting vaccinated. When you consider all of these adverse effects of boozing a lot and on a regular basis, you'll see why changing your behavior can improve your health and well-being now and down the road.

For more, be sure to read What Happens To Your Body When You Give Up Alcohol.

Faye Brennan
Faye is the Editor-in-Chief of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing all digital content for the brand. Read more