Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?

While there aren't official guidelines, some doctors advise against drinking right after getting vaccinated.

If you haven't had your COVID-19 shot yet, but are considering it, you might have lots of questions about what to do and what not to do before and after the vaccine—such as whether it's safe to have a few drinks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had guidelines for people who've been newly vaccinated, and while they recommend avoiding over-the-counter pain meds (like ibuprofen or aspirin) before the vaccine, there was no mention of alcohol, as of July 2022.

In July 2022, there was no official government recommendation on drinking alcohol before or after any of the four COVID-19 vaccines used in the US, and research on the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines didn't ask trial participants to avoid alcohol.

There was also no mention of people having issues after drinking in the trial results. Nor did the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccination fact sheets for the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax vaccines make any reference to alcohol.

"Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather. Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse," Tania Elliott, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, told Health.

Jagadeesh Reddy, MD, infectious disease specialist with Providence Mission Hospital in Orange County, California, agreed. "Though there is no data on this, it is advisable to abstain or reduce alcohol intake for the first 48–72 hours after vaccination as this is the usual period one might expect common and usually mild after-effects of vaccination, like fatigue, muscle aches, injection site pain, etc," Dr. Reddy told Health.


"Another issue is that people who drink alcohol after getting the shot might blame their hangover symptoms on the vaccine," added infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "If they've signed up for the CDC's V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker, they might report those hangover symptoms as side effects and even tell other people about them—which could put people off getting the vaccine," Dr. Adalja told Health.

Of course, having a hangover refers more to excessive use of alcohol, which would be ill-advised at any time. And heavy, chronic drinking has been shown to have negative effects on the immune system, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Alcohol Research.

On the other hand, some studies have shown that light to moderate alcohol intake can boost the immune system. The CDC classifies drinking as follows:

  • Light drinking: at least 12 drinks in the past year but 3 drinks or less per week, on average over the past year.
  • Moderate drinking: more than 3 drinks but no more than 7 drinks per week for women and more than 3 drinks but no more than 14 drinks per week for men, on average over the past year.

A September 2015 review published in the journal Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry suggested that moderate drinking could improve your vaccination response, while chronic (long-term) heavy drinking could increase your risk for bacterial and viral infections.

The review noted, however, that more studies were needed because results were overall mixed, and there are many factors that need to be taken into account regarding alcohol intake and its effects on the body.

So while there was no evidence that drinking alcohol affects the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, and some doctors advised against drinking alcohol immediately after receiving the shot—especially heavy drinking—there wasn't official guidance on this.

And while alcohol can have both relaxation and pain-relieving benefits, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advised against using alcohol to achieve these purposes, partly because the dose necessary for pain relief is higher than what is recommended by the CDC Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol.

Essentially, it's your call regarding a post-vaccination cocktail, but remember to also give your body time to recover. "Focus on rest and hydration," Dr. Elliott advised.

If you choose to wait, you can always celebrate with your favorite cocktail a few days later. Just try to stick to the CDC's recommended daily guidelines—two drinks or less for men and one or less for women.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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