Alcohol should be avoided before and after having the COVID-19 vaccine, an independent medical advisory panel has advised.

As the vaccine programme continues across the country, the alcohol education charity Drinkaware has issued its advice on the impact of drinking alcohol and getting vaccinated.

The panel’s chair, Dr Fiona Sim said: “First and foremost, we urge you to listen to the advice to stay at home as much as possible, to stop the spread of the virus.

“Then, do get vaccinated if you are offered a COVID-19 vaccine. This is regardless of whether you ever drink any alcohol or not.

“We advise that you don’t drink any alcohol for at least two days before, and at least 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.”

At the moment, very little research has been done into the effect of alcohol and the body’s reaction to the vaccine, but there is evidence to suggest that large quantities of booze can reduce the body’s ability to build immunity.

Dr Sim said that heavy drinkers are at risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 so if they are offered a vaccine they should accept it.

She said: “Chronic heavy drinking reduces immune protection, and specifically for respiratory infections, which includes COVID-19.

“For greatest benefit from the vaccine, it is prudent for you not to drink any alcohol for a few days before, and for at least two weeks after, you’ve been vaccinated.

“And if you do contract COVID-19, please do not drink any alcohol until you have recovered fully, to protect your immune system to allow it to fight the virus, as well as minimising the risk of serious liver disease in the longer term.”

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