The Travel Doctor (a chain of clinics that does vaccination for travellers) claims

Can I drink alcohol after vaccines?

[Don't drink too much after Japanese Encephalitis vaccine]

The myth about "no alcohol after receiving vaccines" may have begun this way... Apparently army recruits used to be given numerous vaccines and then be given a day off to recover...and what did the army recruits do when they had the day off? They went to the pub and got drunk and obnoxious, so the army advised them not to drink any alcohol for 48 hours after their vaccines.

Did the military start the "no alcohol after receiving vaccines" meme?

  • Off hand that doesn't seem plausible as I can't think of any military's that allow recruits off base while they are undergoing basic training which is when immunizations are typically given.
    – rjzii
    Jun 27, 2012 at 15:51
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    For specification, who's military? Immunizations are given throughout the duration of someone's military career, heavily dependent on where they are going (Middle East - Typhoid, Malaria pills, Anthrax, etc; Asia - Yellow Fever, Typhoid, etc...). I'd say it's plausible, however this could never happen in any official capacity, more of a "Hey doc, my guys are getting trashed and acting like idiots!" "What me to tell them that they can't drink alcohol?" "Not a bad idea...." Jun 28, 2012 at 4:14
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    Anecdote: I received hundreds of vaccines in my 20 years of service. I was never told not to drink after receiving them. The only instance I can think of is being on TB treatment meds that has an alcohol restriction. I think that @Christopher has the most likely explanation if that meme actually exists. Jul 7, 2012 at 3:40

1 Answer 1


According to the November 1899 Journal of Medicine and Science, Volume 5, at page 440:

Deléarde in experimenting with tetanus and anthrax found that animals treated with alcohol after they had been vaccinated, lost their immunity ; if treated with alcohol during the vaccination period, they then acquired immunity with difficulty; if the vaccination was begun after the treatment with alcohol, it was only successful if the latter was stopped at the beginning of the vaccination.

The above is also published in several other journals of the time period.

See also "Alcohol in Relation to Microbial diseases" Nature volume 57, pages 355-356, which discusses the same work, and says the effect of alcohol depends upon the specific vaccine (just as the link in the OP says not to drink alcohol after Japanese Encephalitis vaccine).

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