It’s a well-known phenomenon by now: For a lot of people, that second shot of COVID-19 vaccine can bring a flood of the kind of emotions only experienced by anyone who has spent more than a year worried about a deadly virus circling the globe.
That can mean tears of relief as well as a need for serious partying. Turns out if you get that last shot of the Pfizer or Moderna and want to throw down with shots of a different kind, that’s perfectly safe–within reason, that is.
The New York Times addressed this subject in an article published Tuesday, “Can You Have Alcohol After the Covid Vaccine?“
First, the NYT gives us the good news:
There is no evidence that having a drink or two can render any of the current Covid vaccines less effective. Some studies have even found that over the longer term, small or moderate amounts of alcohol might actually benefit the immune system by reducing inflammation.
Booze can even help! That’s great. But wait, the Times has more on this very important topic:
Heavy alcohol consumption, on the other hand, particularly over the long term, can suppress the immune system and potentially interfere with your vaccine response, experts say.
Since it can take weeks after a Covid shot for the body to generate protective levels of antibodies against the novel coronavirus, anything that interferes with the immune response would be cause for concern.
Speaking to the Times, Center for Virus Research at the University of California, Irvine director Ilhem Messaoudi said that for “moderate” drinkers, “there’s no risk of having a drink around the time of your vaccine.”
However, Messaoudi said, the thoroughly vaccinated should “be very cognizant of what moderate drinking really means. 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.”
This means that really tying one on, which of course experts say is unsafe to do on a regular basis anyway, can also end up having what amounts to a neutralizing effect on the immune system. The Times goes on to note experiments with rhesus monkeys in which the primates that most enjoyed their hooch had, in Dr. Messaoudi’s words, an “almost a nonexistent immune response.”
It’s about having too much of a good thing, in the end. Multiple studies of moderate alcohol consumption through the years have repeatedly found it reduces signs of inflammation in the bloodstream. Going on benders, however, produces weak immune responses to infections.
So once you’ve had that second shot, feel free to party, but be vigilant, don’t overdo it, and stay hydrated.