Immediately after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you might want to celebrate with a cute social media post or a socially distant outing with friends. (Or some pain meds and a nap, if you're really feeling those side effects.) But if you'd prefer to celebrate with a freshly-packed bowl or a glass of wine, you might be wondering: Is it safe to mix these substances with the vaccine?
When it comes to marijuana, experts say there isn't much research on a possible relationship between weed and the vaccine. But, according to William Schaffner, MD, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, who spoke with Refinery29 health writer Molly Longman, there's no cause for concern. "I don't think it will influence [the] immune system in any way," Dr. Schaffner said. Also, for what it's worth, some marijuana legalization activists have offered free joints to newly vaccinated individuals.
Alcohol, however, is a little more tricky, because it can affect your immune system. This is why the World Health Center (WHO) advised heavy drinkers to "minimize their alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic," if possible. The WHO wrote that there are known links between heavy alcohol use and pneumonia, lung infections, and other respiratory conditions that can worsen COVID-19 complications.
One celebratory beverage shouldn't hurt, though. "If you are truly a moderate drinker, then there's no risk of having a drink around the time of your vaccine," Ilhem Messaoudi, director of the Center for Virus Research at the University of California at Irvine, told The New York Times. "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."
Experts also warn that alcohol could exacerbate possible side effects from the vaccine. "Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather. Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse," Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, said in an interview with Health. And as Dr. Schaffner notes, you might wake up the next morning wondering whether you're experiencing a hangover or vaccine side effects.
Weed, meanwhile, could make side effects better or worse. "It's theoretically possible that it could help with the pain or nausea or headaches. Though it may make fatigue worse," Zach Jenkins, PharmD, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Cedarville University, told Refinery29. "I think it'll vary person to person."
Moderation might be your best bet, especially if you're worried about the flu-like symptoms that might follow your second dose. But ultimately, after your vaccination, you should approach weed and alcohol the way you always should — with an understanding of possible reactions, and an understanding of your own body.