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Experts: Four or five alcoholic drinks could impact COVID-19 vaccine response

Four or five drinks could impact COVID-19 vaccine response
Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 23:49:32-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Research has shown alcohol can affect the immune system, but there’s debate among health experts about whether drinking could impact the response of COVID-19 vaccines.

Many U.S. doctors have suggested one or two drinks won’t significantly affect the immune response, but four or five drinks? They say that’s another story.

Ann Skulas-Ray with the University of Arizona says you should think of getting vaccinated similar to getting ready to take a big test: making sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and managing stress.

“And in that context then it’s clear that we shouldn’t be drinking large amounts of alcohol just before or during this activity,” she told KGUN9.

She says our immune system is always dealing with something. Whether that be exercise, a chronic illness, being overweight or even underweight. Skulas-Ray says these are all things that cause inflammation.

“If it’s dealing with that, then it’s maybe less effective when you’re asking it to make antibodies when you need it,” she added.

Skulas-Ray says binge drinking definitely won’t help.

“Excessive alcohol can cause inflammation and since those links are established that if you get your vaccine while inflamed, either due to illness age or other factors that are just outside of your control you’ll have less of an antibody response to the vaccine,” she told KGUN9.

Four drinks in one sitting is the definition of binge drinking for women; five drinks is the threshold for men.

“And at that amount of consumption, it is a physical stressor on your body,” Skulas-Ray added.

Here are the dos and don'ts when preparing your body for the best vaccine response.

“Just before your vaccine or just after is not the time to run your first ultra-marathon, to remodel your kitchen, or to get an elective surgery What you want to do is to prepare your body in all of its systems. So you want to rest. You want to eat reasonably and engage in moderate exercise,” she said.

The FDA and CDC have yet to offer formal guidance on drinking before or after the vaccine.

“We don’t have really clear research on the dose response or the timing aspects. We’re not going to assign people to drink before or after the vaccine, so a lot of this is going to be a case of best judgement,” Skulas-Ray told KGUN9.