So you just got your Covid-19 vaccine. Is it so OK to toast the apartment with an adult drink or two? Or five or 20?
Well, certainly do not pull out that beer bong. Excessive alcohol intake can suppress your immune system and again reduce the amount of protection that the Covid-19 vaccine can offer. A review paper published in British Journal of Nutrition described how alcohol can impair the movement and function of central white blood cell immune systems, such as B and T lymphocytes, natural killer cells and monocytes / macrophages, as well as alter the immune system’s ability to produce important chemicals (eg cytokines). Excessive drinking can even make you more susceptible to infectious diseases like Covid-19 coronavirus.
This BBC segment shows what even a single night of “excessive drinking” can do for your immune system:
What is excessive drinking? As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows, it is either excessive drink or heavy drink in general. Binge drinks would be four or more drinks for women and and five or more drinks for men over a period of two to three hours. So if you need a full hand to count the number of shots you just had, you just binged about alcohol. Large drink would be at least eight drinks for women and at least 15 drinks for men during a week. Remember to drink alcohol, your “mileage may vary.” For some, even these thresholds may be too high.
What about moderate alcohol intake, ie. no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men? Note that a drink does not mean a beer bong or a tub of wine or a boofing session. Instead, a drink consists of a single 12-ounce can, bottle or Jason Momoa-shaped glass of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits such as bourbon, vodka or gin.
Well, the clinical trials with the Covid-19 vaccine did not explicitly test how alcohol consumption can affect the vaccine’s effect. It was not part of the protocol to give the study participants the vaccine and then say, “now try some Sex on the Beach”, which means the alcoholic beverage and not “Cake by the Sea”, which by the way is not about cake. Researchers have discussed whether a few drinks a day will impair, do nothing for or even improve your immune system. The jury is still out on this issue, and some of them may be drinking.
The second problem is Covid-19 vaccine side effects. According to the CDC, common side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, fever and nausea. How do fatigue, headaches and nausea sound? Hmm, what about a hangover? Drinking too much alcohol before or after the Covid-19 vaccine may end up aggravating the side effects you may get from the vaccine.
Plus, it’s a good idea to monitor your symptoms after vaccination, just in case you’re one of the rare people who has a worse reaction. You will not continue to wonder, “is it the vaccine or the alcohol? Is it the vaccine or the alcohol? Maybe it’s the shoe I use to hit my forehead? In general, it is a good idea to minimize anything that may cause or aggravate symptoms that may be Covid-19 vaccine side effects.
So should you completely avoid alcohol for one to two days before you get the vaccine and the three to four days afterwards? It would be preferable if you can. There are many other ways to celebrate getting your Covid-19 vaccine dose. Instead of a gin and tonic toast, try avocado toast. Instead of having a margarita, you can chat with Rita. Why have a Strawberry Daiquiri when you can zoom in with Zachary? You can go for a walk, take a bike ride, run in circles on the track, cut your hair, celebrate as if it were your birthday all month, or sew together a stuffed teddy bear seed. You can make some spaghetti. You can cook some hot dogs. Just do not cook spaghetti through hot dogs. You can grow different parts of your body. You can even tell yourself, “Are you a parking ticket? Because you have lived written over you. ”
Just be reasonably confident with your alternative activity because the pandemic is not close to being over. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) is still circulating around you. So take reasonable precautions. And do not replace a dark and stormy drink with storming the Capitol.
What if these alternatives are not sufficient? Maybe you have already grown everything on your body that you could possibly grow. Maybe Zachary is a laundry bag. Well, a drink (or possibly two drinks) occasionally is not likely to ruin your immune system or the potential Covid-19 vaccine side effects. So it’s OK to celebrate your vaccination with some alcohol in moderation.
Once you have been fully vaccinated, the normal daily alcohol recommendations should of course apply. That means no more than mild to moderate drinking in general. Excessive drinking can still damage your immune system and thus the protection that the Covid-19 vaccine can offer, even after you have been fully vaccinated. So try not to get toasted unless you are talking about avocado toast.