Some people report there are risks associated with drinking alcohol before or after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. However, there is no conclusive evidence of an interaction between alcohol and the vaccine.

Further, there is no official advice to avoid drinking alcohol after the COVID-19 vaccine.

This article looks at what the research says about alcohol and the COVID-19 vaccine, how it affects the immune system, and whether it is safe to consume alcohol when having the vaccine.

In addition, it discusses other precautions to take before receiving the vaccine, possible side effects, and when to speak to a healthcare professional.

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Despite some news headlines suggesting that alcohol affects the COVID-19 vaccine, experts do not advise people to avoid it.

There is no conclusive evidence that alcohol reduces the vaccine’s effectiveness, but some new studies are looking into what effects it may have in certain groups of people.

We review current research about alcohol and the COVID-19 vaccine below.

Alcohol and immune response

It is well-accepted that alcohol consumption affects the immune response. Studies show that alcohol disrupts immune pathways and can impair the body’s ability to defend itself against infection.

Excessive alcohol consumption increases susceptibility to immune-related conditions, such as:

However, alcohol affects the body in complex and paradoxical ways. For example, an older study on animals and humans suggested that moderate alcohol consumption, unlike chronic alcohol exposure, enhances the response to classical vaccines.

However, animal studies do not necessarily predict human responses.

Learn more about how the immune system works.

Alcohol and the COVID-19 vaccine

A 2023 review aimed to explore alcohol’s effects on the COVID-19 vaccine by looking at the available research.

The review suggests that alcohol may activate ACE2 receptors, which act as the receptor for the COVID-19 virus, and enhance the harmful effects of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The spike protein is located on the virus’s surface and is the main target of antibodies trying to neutralize the virus.

The review also suggests that young people who drink alcohol, as well as those who chronically drink alcohol, have an increased risk of complications after immunization with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Additionally, it explains that chronic alcohol consumption may exacerbate heart problems after having the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. It notes that this could be the case for someone who drinks heavily and is unaware of the early stages of cardiovascular diseases, such as myocarditis.

In conclusion, the review notes that no direct evidence in the literature indicates that moderate alcohol consumption affects the health of vaccinated patients. However, there are several health conditions associated with heavy alcohol consumption and low immune response for which vaccination poses additional risks.

Similarly to drinking alcohol after the vaccine, there is no official advice to avoid alcohol before a COVID-19 booster.

Some organizations advise people to avoid alcohol for at least 2 days before and at least 2 weeks after the vaccine. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support this advice.

Learn more about whether you can test positive after getting the COVID-19 booster.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that if someone does not regularly take over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen, they should not take them before they get a COVID-19 vaccination.

This is because experts do not know how these medications may affect the vaccine’s effectiveness. However, experts note that people may take these medications after vaccination to relieve any pain or discomfort.

In addition, the CDC notes that if someone is moderately or severely immunocompromised, their response to the COVID-19 vaccine may be weaker than that of someone who is not immunocompromised.

According to the CDC, adults may develop the following mild or temporary side effects after a COVID-19 vaccination:

In addition, children and infants may experience irritability, crying, or loss of appetite.

Adverse events, including severe allergic reactions, are rare but possible. For this reason, vaccination providers monitor everyone who receives a COVID-19 vaccine for at least 15 minutes.

If someone experiences a severe adverse effect after leaving their vaccination provider, they should seek medical attention immediately. They should also report their experience using the v-safe smartphone app or the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

If children have redness or tenderness that worsens after 24 hours following the vaccine, or if side effects do not go away, a parent or caregiver should contact a healthcare professional.

Adults should also talk with a healthcare professional about which pain-relieving over-the-counter medications to take for symptoms following the vaccine.

There are no official recommendations to avoid alcohol before or after a COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

However, alcohol can affect the immune system. And some research suggests that people who drink excessive amounts, or are immunocompromised, may have adverse effects if drinking alcohol when taking the vaccine.

People should contact a healthcare professional if they have any concerning side effects following the vaccine.