WITH people drinking more since the pandemic kicked off, many of us are wondering whether we should put aside alcohol before having our jab.

More than 15 million Brits have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The Prime Minister described the 15 million milestone - a self-imposed Government target to protect millions of the most vulnerable - as an “extraordinary feat”.

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Boris Johnson said that in England jabs have been offered to everyone in the Government’s top four priority groups.

The biggest immunisation programme in British history has now expanded to people aged between 65 and 69-years-old in a bid to supply all over 50s with their first dose by May.

But can the millions of us getting immunised have a celebratory drink afterwards?

Medical experts have now answered our burning questions on whether you can drink before or after having a dose.

Salisbury Journal:

Does alcohol affect the coronavirus vaccine?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there is no evidence that drinking alcohol affects any of the Covid vaccines approved for use in the UK.

However, it added anyone concerned should seek advice from a doctor or healthcare professional for what it could mean for them individually.

But an alcohol education charity, Drinkaware, is urging people to give up booze if they can, or cut down, just before and after getting the jab.

Chair of the charity's independent medical advisory panel, Dr Fiona Sim, advises you should not drink for two days before, and up to two weeks after you've been vaccinated.

However, this is not essential and is just a recommendation to keep your immune system at its best.

Dr Sim explained: "As far as alcohol is concerned, we advise that you consider not drinking for two days before, and up to 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."

Dr Sim stressed even if you do drink, "you'll still benefit from having the jab".

She also urged everyone to get immunised, when given the chance.

Does heavy drinking weaken your immune system?

Dr Sim also warned regular heavy drinkers are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch coronavirus.

She explained: "Long-term heavy drinking reduces immune protection, and specifically for respiratory infections, which include Covid-19.

"If you do contract Covid-19, it is best not to drink any alcohol until you have recovered fully, to protect your immune system to allow it to fight the virus."

Salisbury Journal: A woman drinking alcohol

Will having the occasional drink make the jab less effective?

Probably not too, according to Dr Sim.

"People who have already received the jab and had the occasional drink since then should still benefit from the vaccination.

"We would stress the importance of attending your appointment for the second dose when it comes around," Dr Sim added.

What are other countries advising?

A Russian health expert suggested citizens receiving the country's Sputnik V vaccine should give up booze for two months.

Anna Popova told the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station in December people should abstain from alcohol for at least two weeks before getting the first of two injections, according to Reuters.

She advised people should not have alcohol for a further 42 days.

However, her advice was contradicted by the vaccine's developer, Alexander Gintsburg, on Twitter.

He said it was advisable to cut alcohol intake while the body built up immunity, but said people didn't need to give up their favourite tipple completely.

The developer stressed people should refrain from alcohol for three days after each injection, adding it "applies to all vaccines".

There is also no equivalent official advice for any vaccine approved in the UK, however.