Some experts are debating whether you should avoid alcohol before and after you get the COVID-19 vaccine because of how it might impact your immune response. But one doctor we spoke to offered a different reason you might want to skip the drinks around the time of your vaccination: alcohol could increase the likelihood that you have a reaction to the vaccine. Here's more on that connection.
Can I Drink Alcohol After the COVID Vaccine?
Purvi Parikh, MD, an immunologist and allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, told POPSUGAR that “alcohol actually lowers your threshold for allergic reactions because it basically causes your blood vessels to expand, or what we call vasodilate, and that causes inflammation in your body.” The result is that “you're more likely to react,” she added.
Though an arm rash from the Moderna vaccine specifically is said to be harmless and normal — and is short-term — alcohol might exacerbate a reaction. Dr. Parikh recommends avoiding alcohol the day of a vaccine and at least for 24 hours after the vaccine or until any side effects — which could include fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes — subside. And, that's whether or not you have any known allergies.
“Let's say in 24 hours you feel back to normal, that's great. But if you're having side effects after the vaccine for 48 hours, then I wouldn't add more fuel to the fire,” Dr. Parikh, who is also a co-investigator on COVID-19 vaccine trials at NYU, noted. She said, too, that she would give the same advice for both doses of the currently-available mRNA vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — especially since the second dose is reported to lead to greater side effects.
Blanka Kaplan, MD, a specialist in adult and pediatric allergy and immunology from Northwell Health, similarly told WebMD that alcohol could accelerate allergic reactions, and she suggested an even longer timeframe of avoiding alcohol around your vaccination date. “Since we do not yet know enough about the influence of alcohol on allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines, I recommend avoiding drinking alcohol for 24 hours before and after your vaccination,” she said.
Dr. Parikh did note, too, that the severe adverse effects of the vaccine such as anaphylaxis would occur 30 to 60 minutes after receiving the shot. Still, she suggests calling your healthcare provider if you have any signs of an allergic reaction such as rash on your skin — then they can decide the severity of the reaction for themselves. Indication of a more serious response to the vaccine are lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, and vomiting, at which point Dr. Parikh suggests contacting your doctor. Of course, when in doubt, you can contact your doctor about any side effects that might concern you.
Since there's still much we don't know about these COVID-19 vaccines, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid alcohol around the time of your shot to minimize inflammation and a potential allergic reaction.
POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.