AOD Use and Vaccines – Is it Safe?

The Vaccine is safe and effective at protecting yourself and those around you from COVID-19

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your community from catching and transmitting COVID-19. It is safe and effective and will help in the prevention of future outbreaks.

Not everyone experiences side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccination. If you do notice side-effects, they
are usually mild and last 1-2 days. They may include:

  • mild fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • nausea
  • fatigue

COVID-19 vaccine side-effects can be like drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including fever, chills, bone/body ache, nausea, and fatigue. Many people also report headaches after the vaccination.

If you use substances, try to keep close track of your use in the days after getting vaccinated. If withdrawal symptoms seem unlikely, it might be the vaccine. Immunisations can put additional pressure on your immune system initially, so your body might work differently to normal for a short period of time.

Remember all your best overdose prevention and reversal strategies!

It is rare to feel unwell for more than a day. Remind yourself that the symptoms will pass and are very unlikely to be related to withdrawal.

Excerpt from StarHealth ‘Drug Use and COVID-19 Vaccination‘ info sheet.

People who use substances may be at increased risk of COVID-19

This can be attibuted to1:

  • Gathering socially in groups to use substances and/or sharing pipes, needles, etc.
  • Substance use can weaken the immune system, making one more vulnerable to severe symptoms associated with COVID-19
  • Some substances have side-effects that can make the symptoms of COVID-19 more serious, some examples include:
    • Using opioids can slow breathing, leading to decreased oxygen in the brain.
    • Using stimulants, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, can impact your heart and may lead to chronic lung conditions
    • The consumption of substances (any) by means of smoking or vaping, can lead to many respiratory diseases
    • Other conditions, such as HIV, which affect immune response, will weaken one’s natural ability to defend against the virus that causes COVID-19.

People who use substances are at an increased risk of severe illness and death by COVID-19.


  1. Wang QQ, Kaelber DC, Xu R, Volkow ND. COVID-19 risk and outcomes in patients with substance use disorders: analyses from electronic health records in the United States. Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 14:1–10. doi: 10.1038/s41380-020-00880-7. Epub ahead of print. Erratum in: Mol Psychiatry. 2020 Sep 30;: PMID: 32929211; PMCID: PMC7488216.