PEOPLE are being warned not to drink alcohol for two days before and two weeks after having the Covid jab.
This period of sobriety is to ensure the immune system is "at its best" to respond to the vaccine, experts say.
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While there's little data on the exact effect of alcohol on the body's response to the Covid vaccine, there is some evidence to suggest that booze can reduce the ability to build immunity in response.
It's especially the case for regular heavy drinkers, according to Drinkaware, the independent medical advisory panel for alcohol education charity.
Urging people to get the jab, the panel’s chair, Dr Fiona Sim, said: “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.
"If you are a regular heavy drinker, the risks to you of becoming seriously ill if you do contract Covid-19 are particularly high, so please do keep your appointment for vaccination if you are offered one.
Don't drink any alcohol for at least two days before, and at least two weeks after, you've been vaccinated
“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.”
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
She advises that if people do choose to drink alcohol, they should do so within the Government's low risk guidelines for both men and women.
That means no more than 14 units of alcohol each week, ensuring at least three days a week are drink-free.
It comes as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was rolled out at GP surgeries across the country today.
The jab is easier to distribute than the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which was the first to be approved, as it can be stored at fridge temperatures.
The fast expansion of the vaccination programme is key to the Government's efforts to tackle coronavirus and lift England's national lockdown.
But problems with the rapid scale up were laid bare today when the Health Secretary arrived at a GP surgery in London only to find they hadn't received their delivery.
GP Ammara Hughes, a partner at Bloomsbury Surgery in central London, told Sky News that its first delivery of AstraZeneca's vaccine had been pushed back 24 hours to Thursday.
Matt Hancock said said the "rate limiting" factor in efforts to get people vaccinated was supply from the manufacturers.
Standing in front of Dr Hughes's surgery, the Health Secretary said: "It's great news this morning that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is from right now being rolled out to GP surgeries across the country.
"For the first three days with the Oxford vaccine we did it in hospitals to check that it was working well and it's working well so now we can make sure that it gets to all those GP surgeries that like this one can do all the vaccinations that are needed.
"The rate-limiting step is the supply of vaccine. We're working with the companies – both Pfizer and AstraZeneca – to increase the supply."
Dr Hughes said: "It's just more frustrating than a concern because we've got the capacity to vaccinate.
"And if we had a regular supply – we do have the capacity to vaccinate three to four thousand patients a week."
"We have been running since the middle of December and on our busiest days we can vaccinate 500 people easily.
"If we could get the AstraZeneca, then we could easily vaccinate 500 a day, which would ease the pressure on the health service and we could get more and more people vaccinated quickly and hopefully get out of the pandemic."
Dr Hughes said Mr Hancock was "quite surprised actually to learn that we don't know when all of our deliveries are coming, they're very ad hoc".
The surgery had been administering the Pfizer vaccine since the middle of December and had so far received three deliveries of that jab.
Dr Hughes said: "So we've continued to vaccinate with Pfizer in the surgery, and what we're hoping to do with the AstraZeneca when it arrives is to go out to the most clinically vulnerable and housebound. So that's what we'll be doing.
"We won't start vaccinating within the surgery with our AstraZeneca doses until we've finished our Pfizer vaccines."
It's hoped more than 700 GP surgeries will be delivering vaccines by the end of the week – after the UK recorded the highest daily death toll since April.
The UK reported a further 1,041 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday.
Record numbers are also currently in hospital with coronavirus, with a further 3,500 admitted in England on Monday.
Some 1.3 million people have already received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
Vaccines available to the UK
THE UK government has placed orders for seven different vaccines – totalling more than 300 million jabs
- AstraZeneca/Oxford university – 100 million doses – Approved
- Pfizer/BioNTech – 40 million doses – Approved
- Janssen – 30 million doses – Phase 3 trials
- Moderna – 5 million doses – Phase 3 trials
- Novavax – 60 million doses – Phase 3 trials
- Valneva – 60 million doses – Phase 1/2 trials
- GSK/Sanofi – 60 million doses – Phase 1/2 trials
And millions of extra Covid vaccines could be ready within weeks as approval times for fresh batches are slashed to just five days.
The jabs will be given to those deemed most vulnerable to the virus first – and are currently being offered to people aged over 80 in hospital, frontline health staff and care home workers.
With the roll out of the Oxford vaccine, the aim is to vaccinate every care home resident by the end of January, while all over 70s and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable by mid-Feburary.
Other priority groups will then be invited for their jabs, possibly by Easter.
The rest of the population – mainly those under 50 – will be in the second vaccination phase, but teachers transport workers and the military could be prioritised.
As soon as it's your turn to get the vaccine, you will be invited either by phone or letter.
Seven mass vaccination centres will open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage, to ramp up the roll out.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the bid to increase the speed of inoculations will see the approval period needed for Covid vaccine batches slashed from 20 days to just four.
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the body responsible for the checks, is also set to increase staffing in a bid to accelerate the programme, the paper reported.
Ministers have already decided, in a move queried by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to administer the first jab to as many priority patients as possible by delaying a second shot.
The second jab will be given up to 12 weeks later to prevent current supplies from being held back. In the clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine, people received a follow-up shot 21 days after the first.
But in the Oxford University vaccine study, the timetable for a second vaccine was much more varied, with many not getting a second jab for several weeks.
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