Alcohol & The Covid Vaccine

The Covid-19 vaccine has been steadily rolling out to many cities across the United States, and many Americans are getting vaccinated, hoping to slow down the pandemic we’ve found ourselves in for close to two years now. Regular life is starting to come back around, with people going back to work, social gatherings opening up, and restaurants allowing for dine in options again. However, there are still mandates in place that limit how much we can do, and it’s recommended by the CDC that we stay inside as much as possible, to help limit the spread of spreading covid-19, even if we are vaccinated. So, people still find themselves bored, isolated, and longing for connection, which in turn turns to stress, depression, and anxiety. And with new variants, such as Delta and Omicron, it makes sense that people, even if they have received their shots, want to drink alcohol to feel better about these uncertain times. But some people have questions when it comes to drinking alcohol and the Covid vaccine. Can you drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine? Is it good to drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine? What are the side effects if you drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine?

A man with glasses is actively drinking a glass a cup of alcohol after just having gotten the covid vaccine.

Covid-19 Vaccine & The Immune System

What the Covid-19 vaccines do, regardless of which one you receive, is help the body create immunity to the virus that causes Covid-19, without having to catch the illness. This all starts with the immune system. The immune system is our body’s defense when unwanted bacteria enters us. When these germs find their way into our bodies, our immune system utilizes several tools to combat the infection. The immune system will create white cells to fight these germs. There are several different white cells. The CDC describes these as: 

  • Macrophages: are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs, called “antigens”. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them.
  • B-lymphocytesare defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the pieces of the virus left behind by the macrophages.
  • T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that have already been infected. (1)

When the body is first exposed to a virus, such as the virus that turns into Covid-19, it can take a couple days or even weeks for the body to create and implement all the different types of cells needed to end the infection. Once the immune system has fought the virus once, it remembers what it took to fight the disease, and can apply that next time the body is exposed. It does this by keeping some of the T-lymphocytes, which act as memory cells, ready to attack if the body is exposed to the virus again. When these germs are encountered again, B-lymphocytes are produced to attack them. When it comes to the Covid-19 virus, scientists are still determining how long our bodies’ memory cells take to ward off the virus that causes Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccine gives us a small dose of the virus, so the body is left with a number of memory cells and defensive cells that recall how to fight the virus if the body is exposed. The vaccine will take a couple weeks to work, giving the body time to create these defense and memory cells in our immune system. Sometimes, the vaccine can cause fever-like symptoms, which is a normal reaction to the vaccine, and can be alleviated with over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antihistamines, and aspirin if 18 years and older. 

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Alcohol & The Covid Vaccine

If you just received your Covid-19 vaccine you might be excited and want to do something to celebrate. Drinking might be something you are considering, but maybe you’re asking yourself can you drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine. What are the effects of mixing alcohol and the Covid vaccine? What are the potential benefits or consequences if you drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine? According to Illinois Dr. Mark Loafman with Cook County Health, you can drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine, but there are some things to consider. “It’s a great question. The short answer is yes. There’s no prohibition against drinking alcohol after the Covid vaccine. It wasn’t specifically studied, and there’s an assumption that some, you know, an average number of people in the study did use alcohol during the study, but it wasn’t specifically measured.” (2) Technically, you can physically drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine. You probably won’t keel over and die on the spot if you have alcohol and the Covid vaccine in your body.

A side by side photo comparison of a person receiving a vaccine shot in their arm and a person pouring alcohol from a bottle into a beer cup.

But it’s different if you mix a lot of alcohol and the Covid vaccine. “We know in general that people who have used alcohol, excessive doses of alcohol, have weakened immune systems, and that makes them more susceptible to infection and may weaken their response to a vaccine,” Loafman continued. (3) So, while mixing a little amount of alcohol and the Covid vaccine won’t kill you, drinking a lot of alcohol after the Covid vaccine will damage your immune system, which is used by your body to combat infections and viruses, such as the Covid-19 virus. Consistent alcohol use, which is having one drink a day or two drinks a day for men over a long-period of time, will make it so your body has a more difficult time dealing with the potential symptoms of the Covid vaccine. So, do alcohol and the Covid vaccine mix well? Not if you want the best defense against the Covid-19 virus and want the easiest time dealing with the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine. Can you drink alcohol after the Covid vaccine? Your body will physically be able to take it, but it will only damage your immune system. Alcohol doesn’t make your vaccine null by any means, but it will still make your body less defensive when it comes to the virus. 

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  1. Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work | CDC
  2. Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting the COVID Booster Shot? Here’s What a Doctor Says – NBC Chicago