Can beer and COVID vaccinations be friends? The best answer falls somewhere in between. So long as you’re not doing keg stands, I’m happy to inform you that yes, you can drink beer after getting the COVID vaccination. That is, so long as it’s done in moderation.
Now the definition of moderation may be confusing for some. Your version of moderation might be two to three beers a day while the next-door neighbor may have a 12-pack before breakfast. What it boils down to is your body’s immune system and how it reacts to the consumption of alcohol.
How The Immune System Is Affected By Alcohol
The immune system’s reaction to alcohol begins in the gut (oh, the irony) where essential “good” bacteria reside and most of the nutritional value of food is extracted.
Good bacteria is what equates to a healthy immune system. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, “Alcohol can significantly impact both the number and the variety of these bacteria in the gut, in turn weakening our immune system.”
That doesn’t mean that moderately consuming a couple of beers a day is going to cause an unhealthy drop in your immune system’s ability to respond. It does mean that excessive amounts of alcohol consumption will inhibit your immune system.
Alcohol creates inflammation in the gut which inhibits immune response and it also destroys the good bacteria and the gut isn’t the only attack vector that alcohol takes.
It also damages the linings of cells in the body, including white blood cells, making them slow to react to viral or bacterial invaders.
It would be akin to expecting you to check the mailbox in the same way that you always have, except this time, all of the skin has been removed from your hand. Can you still check the mailbox? Sure, but not as ably as before and certainly not as enthusiastically.
What Does That Mean For The Recently Vaccinated?
It means that it’s probably okay to have a few drinks per day but anything more than that will inhibit your immune system’s response to the vaccine. It would be like a bunch of college kids showing up to a Cognitive Psychology class completely Hasselhoffed.
There are two types of COVID-19 vaccines:
- mRNA: Messenger RNA vaccines provide instructions—at the genetic level—to our white blood cells on how to fight the Coronavirus. It’s similar to delivering a textbook or a package of instructions on how to do something.
- Viral Vector: The viral vector vaccine works by creating spike proteins (via an adenovirus) and those spike proteins serve as combat dummies for the immune system to take their mad out on.
Neither vaccine contains live or dead viruses like typical or traditional vaccines do.
If you spend a lot of time snockered or like to binge drink on the weekends and go streaking through the quad, your white blood cells will have trouble deciphering that package of instructions or going all Braveheart on a gang of spike proteins.
The COVID-19 vaccines typically take over a week to teach the immune system how to tackle the Coronavirus and all of its variants.
That means you should probably chill on the Landshark or the Coors Light for a couple of weeks after you get the vaccine.
What Would Drinking Excessive Alcohol Do To The Recently Vaccinated?
One thing is assured, nothing good. According to Dr. Rosa Maria Wong, a Specialist at UNAM Faculty of Medicine, “Drinking alcohol after applying your dose can enhance its side effects, for example, dizziness, fever, nausea, and headaches.
So it would be like all of the detriments of getting hammered without the positives of getting hammered. On top of impairing the immune system and delaying—if not outright halting—the progress of the vaccine, enhancing its side effects doesn’t sound very enticing.
All Things Considered
So “can I drink beer after getting a covid vaccine” is a legitimate question and it seems that—though most doctors are a little hesitant—the answer is yes, in moderation. There’s still a lot of back and forth over immune system effects from moderate consumption.
In the meantime, maybe give it a few weeks off as the vaccine does its job instructing healthy white blood cells on how to kill COVID. If you happen to have a few beers for a night or two, you’ll likely be fine. Just stay away from the Everclear.
(May 11, 2020) Understanding Alcohol And The Immune System During COVID-19.
Retrived from: https://adf.org.au/insights/alcohol-immune-system-covid-19/
Otero del Río, M. (July 27, 2021). Can I drink alcohol after getting vaccinated against COVID-19?