Booze | April 28, 2021 8:48 am

Yes, You Can Probably Drink After Your Second COVID-19 Vaccine Shot

There's no scientific consensus, but celebrating in moderation seems to be fine (though there are caveats)

A mask is left on a table next to a margarita at Moldaw Residences in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
A mask is left on a table next to a margarita at Moldaw Residences in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
Randy Vazquez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

The most asked question about COVID-19 vaccinations — after “Where can I get one?” and “What is Bill Gates putting in my body?” (I know who you are, and stop sending me long emails filled with YouTube links and typos, thanks) — involves the very important question, “Can I drink after my shot?”

There is a lot of information out there, and the New York Times is the latest publication to tackle this inquiry. “Can alcohol interfere with your immune response?” asks Anahad O’Connor, before providing his own answer: It depends on how much you drink.

O’Connor suggests studies have shown no effect for a drink or two after your shot, and moderate alcohol consumption may even help with reducing inflammation. Conversely, heavy alcohol consumption can suppress your immune system and interfere with your vaccine response.

So let’s define moderate versus heavy consumption. “Be very cognizant of what moderate drinking really means,” as Ilhem Messaoudi, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California, Irvine, tells the Times. “It’s dangerous to drink large amounts of alcohol because the effects on all biological systems, including the immune system, are pretty severe and they occur pretty quickly after you get out of that moderate zone.”

So we’re talking 1-2 “standard” drinks here (think a glass of wine, a shot or a can of beer), not four or more per day, and noting that the shot isn’t an instantaneous fix — you’re only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot if you’re on the two-dose program.

Also, heavy alcohol consumption “prevents immune cells from traveling to sites of infection and carrying out their duties, like destroying viruses, bacteria and infected cells; makes it easier for pathogens to invade your cells, and causes a host of other problems,” as the Times notes. Also note that this summary of research isn’t based on anything specifically COVID-related, but rather prior clinical trials (some of which were on rhesus monkeys and rats). Again, oddly, studies here showed that moderate alcohol consumption seemed to be actually beneficial … and yes, they were giving animals booze.

So much like everything else when it comes to drinking and a healthy lifestyle, we’re looking at moderation here (note also that there is no official U.S. government or CDC recommendation on the topic). That said, you may end up blaming some of the possible, temporary side effects of the vaccine on alcohol, whether you drank the night before or soon after getting your shot. And most people we know on shot two weren’t ready for booze for at least a day or two afterwards.

Suggestion: Whatever your stance, drink lots of water after and tone down the excess for a little while. There’s going to be time to properly celebrate (or boozily reflect) a little later.