Will alcohol consumption affect your response to COVID-19 vaccination?

Nanditha KalidossinCOVID-19
Mar 28, 2021

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One needs to abstain from alcohol consumption for 45 days after taking the COVID-19 vaccine


Since there is no evidence that alcohol consumption will in anyway affect the response to COVID-19 vaccine, the given claim to abstain for 45 days is FALSE. However, for general well-being, it is suggested to consume alcohol within the limits.

New information on the novel coronavirus, even after a whole year, is spawned on a dynamic basis about its progression and the current contention is in terms of post-vaccination protocol. An image has been doing rounds on social media and closed groups like WhatsApp regarding refraining from alcohol for 45 days after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.  Let us verify the claim in the post.

Source: Social media image

In the post-COVID management protocol, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare did suggest avoiding the consumption of alcohol. However, in a detailed document prepared for healthcare and frontline workers to address FAQs on vaccination protocol, the Health Ministry says that as per experts “there is no evidence of alcohol impairing the effectiveness of the vaccine”.

According to Healthline fact-check, neither the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) nor the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cautioned about alcohol consumption. There is no clinical evidence to support that alcohol renders COVID-19 vaccine ineffective. Therefore, the authenticity of the post is still unclear given that there has been no formal communication/recommendation from the governments, health authorities (ICMR, WHO), or vaccine manufacturers on the impact of alcohol consumption on COVID-19 vaccines so far.

The conflict had started in December when a health official, in a tweet, recommended 42 days of abstaining from drinking alcohol after the vaccination. But it was later clarified that that the recommendation was meant to curb heavy drinking as it may disrupt the immune system’s response to the vaccine.

What is the contention with alcohol?
Research studies on alcohol have shown that alcohol can cause inflammation in the gut and can alter the makeup of the microbiome, potentially damaging the micro-organisms that maintain immune system health. On the other hand, binge/heavy drinking is associated with several other health problems including an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and liver disease. According to Nature journal, excess alcohol is an immunosuppressant so people who drink a lot are more susceptible to infections.

Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease physician and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University however, suggested that there is ‘no evidence that alcohol reduces the formation of antibodies.’ However, he has also further recommended watching the alcohol intake since some people might experience mild to moderate side effects like fatigue, chills, headache among others, and being intoxicated or hungover will only add to the existing problems.

The Hindu also reported that in order to maximize the benefits of the vaccination, it is better to abstain from alcohol consumption and continue to take other precautions including wearing the mask, practicing social distancing and other COVID-19 norms even after vaccination in order to break the chain of transmission.

In conclusion, while there is no hard and fast rule to abstain from alcohol consumption for 45 days after vaccination, it is recommended to moderate the alcohol consumption and not binge drink for general well-being.

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