Getting vaccinated? Great, but here’s why you should hold out on booze and grooves

20 August 2021 - 12:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
Those considering getting the Covid-19 vaccine might want to hold back on drinking alcohol and attending gatherings for a while. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko Those considering getting the Covid-19 vaccine might want to hold back on drinking alcohol and attending gatherings for a while. File photo.

There are renewed concerns and questions around the safety of alcohol consumption before and after getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

Questions are making the rounds about attending so-called “vaccination parties”.

This as the cabinet announced on Thursday that South Africans aged 18 and older could get the jab from Friday. Initially the age group was scheduled to register for vaccination on September 1, but the rollout for other age groups has been met with hesitancy by some eligible individuals.

The cabinet said opening up vaccination to the over-18s would give the programme a much-needed boost, adding that its aim is to dispel conspiracy theories around the vaccine and to reduce the spread of Covid-19. 

SA has administered more than 10-million vaccines, with more than 7-million people partially vaccinated and more than 4-million fully vaccinated. 

No scientific evidence of booze working against the vaccine

Johannesburg-based general practitioner Dr Hillary Mukudu told TimesLIVE there is no scientific evidence that shows alcohol affects the efficacy of the vaccine, but he cautioned that the after-effects of alcohol consumption may be confused with the side-effects of the vaccine.

After-effects of booze consumption, like chills and headaches, could confuse people as they can mimic those of the vaccine. He advised those getting vaccinated to stay sober to ensure effective monitoring of the after-effects of the vaccine.

The vaccine is effective after two weeks 

The vaccine does not immediately provide protection after it has been administered, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service. 

“The body’s immune system takes up to 14 days to develop strong immune responses after the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. With the Pfizer-BioNTech there is some protection two weeks after the first dose, but the best protection is achieved after the second dose,” said the institute.

It is advisable to observe all the safety protocols until you are fully protected. 

It's not yet safe to hold gatherings 

General practitioner Dr Marlin McKay told TimesLIVE it's still not advisable to attend gatherings even with the assumption that most people will be vaccinated.

He cautioned that less risk of contracting Covid-19 should not come with complacency.

“We’re assuming most youth will be vaccinated. If in that gathering you have what we call relative herd immunity, where between 60% and 70% of the youth in that gathering have been vaccinated, then it is safer than what it is now.

“However, because we don’t know, I would encourage young people to always wear a mask when going out,” he said.