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VERIFY: Moderate drinking should not weaken COVID-19 vaccine's effectiveness

A WCNC Charlotte viewer heard alcohol suppressed the immune system and asked if getting the COVID-19 shot at a bar-based vaccine event would dampen its effects.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Vaccine providers are getting more creative in an effort to increase visibility and ease of getting the COVID-19 shot.

In North Carolina, Mecklenburg County has been conducting vaccine events at local breweries and other hangout spots. In South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control has partnered with the South Carolina Brewers Guild to offer free beer and sodas to people 21 and older getting vaccinated on site.

But one WCNC Charlotte viewer wanted to know if this concept could backfire since doctors had previously warned alcohol could weaken the vaccine's effectiveness.

The Question

Can you get vaccinated while drinking at a bar or brewery without dampening the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Credit: WCNC

Sources

  • Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease specialist with Novant Health
  • Becky Bean, Novant Health's Chief Pharmacy Officer
  • Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public health director with SCDHEC

The Answer

Heavy drinking or binge drinking could pose a problem for several reasons, including suppression of the immune system, and the immune system is the part of the body that is supposed to respond to the vaccine. However, moderate drinking should be OK.

"I think everything in moderation," Priest said. "If you happen to be somewhere, and you've had one drink or part of a drink and someone offers you a vaccine, I think it's perfectly fine to get vaccinated."

Bean agrees.

"Certainly, we're seeing a lot of nontraditional locations where a lot of vaccines are administered, but again, the goal is to increase those access points," Bean said.

"DHEC very strongly encourages people to drink responsibly and follow all health and safety protocols," Traxler said.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

 Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.