As the vaccine rollout around the UK continues to vaccinate people against the Covid-19 virus, some people have been confused about whether or not they are allowed to drink alcohol before or after receiving the jab.
This is what you need to know about alcohol and the Covid-19 vaccines.
‘Alcohol interferes with your body’
The independent medical advisory panel for alcohol education charity, Drink Aware, explains: “While there is no published data about the specific effects of alcohol on the human body’s response to the Covid-19 vaccination, there is some evidence that drinking alcohol, especially regular heavy drinking, could interfere with your body’s ability to build immunity in response to some vaccines.”
Dr Fiona Sim, the panel’s chair, says: “We are very keen to stress how important it is for you to get vaccinated. We do know that, since the onset of the pandemic last year, between one fifth and one third of people have been drinking more than they usually do.
“So, as far as alcohol is concerned, we advise that you consider not drinking for two days before, and up to two weeks after you’ve been vaccinated, to try to ensure your immune system is at its best to respond to the vaccine and protect you.
“But it’s really important to know that, even if you do drink, you’ll still benefit from having the jab, so please don’t turn it down.”
Why two weeks?
The guidance from Drink Aware explains that, according to information on vaccines, it takes time for the body to build immunity following vaccination.
It is in your best interest for your immune system to be able to work to the best of its ability, and not “risk any reduction in its immune response as a result of alcohol”.
“The UK Government’s advice suggests it takes a week or two for your body to build up this immunity following vaccination, so our precautionary advice is to consider having a break from alcohol for this period,” Drink Aware says.
‘Alcohol reduces levels of white blood cells’
On the TV programme The Truth About… Boosting Your Immune System, which aired on the BBC, emergency medicine expert Dr Ronx Ikharia found that three glasses of Prosecco reduced the levels of white blood cells by up to half.
This includes lymphocytes, which account for 20 per cent to 40 per cent of white blood cells in adults, and help the body fight viruses.
Previously, scientists from Wuhan found that lymphocytes play a key role in determining the immune response to foreign substances, such as the Covid-19 virus.
On the programme, Immunologist Professor Sheena Cruickshank said: “You need to have your immune system working tip-top to have a good response to the vaccine, so if you’re drinking the night before, or shortly afterwards, that’s not going to help.”