COVID-19 vaccination: can I drink alcohol before or after the jab?

Many have had cause to be cautious on what to or not to take before and after taking the COVID-19 vaccine jab so as not to limit the effectiveness of the vaccine.

One major concern, especially among the youth, is whether they can take alcohol before or right after taking a COVID-19 jab. Fact Check-Ghana delves into what experts have said on the matter in this report.

Is there a connection between COVID-19 vaccines and alcohol?

Although researchers did not specifically delve into the impact of alcohol on the effectiveness of any of the COVID-19 vaccines during the clinical trials, experts believe the COVID-19 vaccine jabs don’t have different reactions from alcohol just as other vaccines do.

Director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California, Irvine, Ilhem Messaoudi has said “we know from other studies that chronic alcohol consumption can lead to weak vaccine responses and reduce protection. The same most likely applies to the Covid-19 vaccine. Those who drink in excess are likely to generate dampened immune responses and also be at higher risk of having severe Covid-19.”

Messaoudi, who has conducted extensive research on the effect of alcohol on immune response also noted that “when we consume alcohol outside of the moderate zone, we see a significant increase in susceptibility to infection — especially respiratory pathogens — decreased wound-healing capacity and increased risk of cancer.”

Chronic consumption of alcohol according to Dr Messaoudi increases the production of inflammatory factors by the immune cells which reduce the ability to fight infection.

Can one drink alcohol before or after the vaccine?

Medics in the United Kingdom (UK) have advised that people desist from taking alcohol in the days leading up to and after taking the COVID-19 jab.

Speaking to UK Metro, Prof. Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester emphasised that one’s immune system must be “working in tip-top to have a good response to the vaccine, so if you’re drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that’s not going to help.”

However, during the clinical trials for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for instance – where some participants were drinking before and after because they were not required to abstain from alcohol—the findings didn’t mention any issues after the trials.

Aside from concerns shared by some experts on alcohol leading to weak vaccine responses, Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, notes “there is no evidence that alcohol reduces the formation of antibodies.”

He, however, recommends people watch their alcohol intake a few days after taking the shot for a different reason.

Some people may experience flu-like side effects like fever, chills, fatigue, and a headache, he said, and “being intoxicated or hungover will make things less pleasant.” He also advised that one should take in more water if generally feels unwell.

There are also concerns of those who take in alcohol right after the jab confusing hungover with vaccination side effects. Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, has therefore reiterated the necessity for one to keep in mind the impact of alcohol when reporting their vaccination side effects in order not to mistake hungover as a repercussion of the vaccine.

Thus, in conclusion, even though researchers did not look specifically into the effect of alcohol on CIVID-19 vaccines jabs during the clinical trials, earlier works into the relationship between alcohol and vaccines, in general, indicate that the immunity formation in one’s system could be affected if alcohol is taken moments before or after taking a vaccine.

This report is produced under the project: COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information being implemented with funding support from the European Union.

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