November 17, 2021
Business Health Hollywood & Entertainment Innovation pharma Technology

Joe Rogan Asks Why Younger, Healthy People Should Get Covid-19 Vaccines, Here’s Why

Oops, Joe Rogan did it again. While it’s not fair to characterize Rogan as “anti-vaxx,” he did repeat a misconception about the Covid-19 vaccine. Not once but twice.

Back on the April 23 episode of his popular Spotify podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Rogan had said, “I’ve said, yeah, I think for the most part it’s safe to get vaccinated. I do. I do. But if you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go no.” The following tweet included a clip of what Rogan, a comedian, podcaster, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) commentator, had said:

Oh, no, Joe. Say it isn’t so. Rogan’s statement didn’t quite mesh with the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statement: “Everyone 16 years of age and older is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination. Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.”

Not surprisingly, Rogan got push-back from public health experts for this statement, because suggesting to the public that there’s no reason for young and healthy people to get the Covid-19 vaccine is wrong, wrong like a bedroom gong. Young and healthy people are not invulnerable. They can still get infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus. They can still get Covid-19. Some can get very sick with Covid-19. They can still pass the virus on to others when they are not vaccinated. That’s essentially what Anthony Fauci, MD, the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), emphasized on the Today show when asked to comment about what Rogan had said:

OK, Fauci didn’t use the words “bedroom gong.” But he did use the word “vacuum,” as when you think that you don’t need to get vaccinated because you are young and healthy, “you’re talking about yourself in a vacuum then.” And he wasn’t referring to the “suck up dust and truffle bits” type of vacuum but rather the “only thinking about yourself” type of vacuum.

As a result of the push-back, on the April 29 episode of his podcast, Rogan tried to clarify what he had said the week before, emphasizing that “I’m not an anti-vaxx person,” and that “in fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take them. My parents were vaccinated.” Indeed, calling Rogan an “anti-vaxxer” or describing his previous comments as “anti-vaccination” would be going a bit too far. Someone who is “anti-vaxx” is actively trying to get others to not get vaccinated often by spreading misinformation. That didn’t seem to be what Rogan has been doing.

But then Rogan did add, “I just said I don’t think if you’re a young healthy person you need it,” as you can see in following video:

Joe close, yet Joe far away.

As a reminder, Rogan is not a medical doctor, which comedian Bill Burr has pointed out on a previous show:

And to be fair, Rogan has never claimed to be a medical doctor. In fact recently, Rogan did re-iterate, “I’m not a doctor, I’m a bleeping moron. I’m not a respected source of information, even for me.” Note, Rogan didn’t actually say the word bleeping but instead said something that begins with the letter “f” and wasn’t “floccinaucinihilipilification.”

Nevertheless, Rogan does have quite a megaphone at his hands. According to Natalie Jarvey writing for The Hollywood Reporter, The Joe Rogan Experience was Spotify’s most popular podcast in 2020. The show’s YouTube channel has at least 10.6 million subscribers. So what he says, even if it is about a topic that’s beyond his expertise, may get traction among his viewers and listeners. These days, if you are famous for one thing, people may assume that you know a lot about everything. This is true even though getting medical or public health advice from a movie, TV, or podcast stars who aren’t medical doctors makes about as much sense as having Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber play quarterback for your NFL team.

Rogan’s comments did reveal a continuing widespread misconception about the Covid-19 vaccination program. It isn’t just all about you. The Covid-19 vaccine isn’t a gigantic concrete full body condom. Your risk of catching the virus and getting sick from Covid-19 depends on not only whether you get the vaccine but also whether other people around you get the vaccine. As long as the virus can find more people to infect, it will keep spreading. The longer and further it can spread, the more opportunities the virus may have to mutate, potentially into something more contagious and even more deadly. Just because young, healthy folks seem to have had a lower probability of getting very sick from Covid-19, who knows what may happen in the future.

In fact, as Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine tweeted, recently more and more younger folks have been getting sicker with Covid-19:

By the way, Covid-19 expertise does not seem to be in the Liz Wheeler-house.

Plus, younger, healthier folks may be more likely to spread the virus. They may be more likely to go to bars and yell stuff like “YOLO” at the top of their lungs, spewing virus all over the place if they are infected. They may be more likely to travel to different locations and mix with more people. That’s why getting the younger and the healthier vaccinated is critical to stopping the pandemic.

The longer it takes for our society to reach the herd immunity thresholds needed to really slow the spread of the virus, the longer our society will have to keep talking about social distancing and face mask wearing. Therefore, the more that such scientific facts can get out there, the better, so that people understand how important it is to encourage each other to get vaccinated. And Rogan can help do this by getting more real medical and public health experts on his show. After all, Rogan isn’t your average Joe.