With the COVID-19 vaccination programme being expanded to include all above 45 years in India, questions regarding drinking alcohol before and after doses are on the rise. So far, there has been no rule on abstaining from consuming alcohol as far as taking the vaccine is concerned.
A statement in the government advisory posted on the Union Health Ministry's website says that according to experts, there is no evidence of alcohol impairing the effectiveness of the vaccine.
What Other Health Bodies Are Saying?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States and the Public Health England have not spoken about the matter. However, some experts in the UK have recently asked people to stay away from drinking liquor ahead of and after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine Efficacy and Alcohol
Meanwhile, UK's independent regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has said there is currently no evidence that drinking alcohol interferes with the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines. "We would advise anyone concerned about this to talk to their healthcare professional," it added.
What Evidence Shows?
There have been no reports so far the vaccine's efficacy declining as a result of alcohol consumption and most doctors globally are of the opinion that liquor does not create trouble in development of antibodies.
Drinking between doses
According to a report in Forbes, a Russian scientist had suggested that vaccine recipients stop taking alcohol two weeks before their first shot and then three weeks after the second. Another scientist too had recommended "refraining from alcohol for three days after each injection." This is based on studies that link excess alcohol consumption to a lowered immune system.
The magazine New Scientist said volunteers for vaccine trials at the University of Oxford that has developed AstraZeneca, which is being locally manufactured as Covishield in India, were not told to abstain from alcohol. Pfizer has confirmed it does not give any contraindications relating to alcohol use and the vaccine, the article said.
Can one drink after getting the vaccine?
One needs to have a perfect immune system to have a good response to the vaccine, so if one is drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that’s not going to help, an immunologist at the University of Manchester told UK Metro.
Hence, we can safely conclude that while the authorities have not asked vaccine recipients to abstain from drinking, it would be prudent to consult personal physicians on the matter. If that is a difficult proposition, one can raise a glass after ensuring that there has been no side effect for at least a few days after the vaccines have been administered.