Podcaster Joe Rogan is facing an online backlash this week after comments made during the most recent episode of his show, The Joe Rogan Experience, in which he said that he does not believe people who are young and healthy need to get vaccinated against Covid-19. “If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No,’” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, has publicly responded to Rogan, calling his words “incorrect” and stating that such a point of view fails to consider the bigger picture.
Speaking to TODAY‘s Savannah Guthrie, Fauci said: “Well that’s incorrect, and the reason why is you’re talking about yourself in a vacuum then. You’re worried about yourself getting infected and the likelihood that you’re not gonna get any symptoms.”
“But you can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk,” he continued. “And even if you don’t have any symptoms, you’re propagating the outbreak because it is likely that you — even if you have no symptoms — that you may inadvertently and innocently then infect someone else who might infect someone who really could have a problem with a severe outcome.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Rogan has caused a controversy with his remarks on the subject of the vaccine. Back in February, he stated that he would not personally take the vaccine, telling guest Jamar Neighbors: “No. I mean, I would if I felt like I needed it. I just feel like if you maintain your health—and I think for some people it’s important, for some people it’s good.”
Throughout the pandemic, Rogan has maintained a stance that getting vaccinated is a personal choice. But as Fauci points out, such an individualist outlook ignores the fact that we live in communities, and that the decisions we make about our own health during a pandemic are almost certainly bound to affect others.
“If you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK,” said Fauci. “But if you’re saying to yourself, ‘Even if I get infected, I could do damage to somebody else, even if I have no symptoms at all’… that’s the reason why you’ve got to be careful and get vaccinated.”
Rogan has also repeatedly implied that healthy eating and exercise can be enough by themselves to protect an individual from Covid: however, boosting your immune system is not the same as having immunity from coronavirus.
But while he has taken care not to generalize, and has only spoken to to his own experience and that of his family—his two daughters had mild cases of the virus—the fact remains that Rogan is one of the most popular podcasters in the world. The extent of his platform means that even an offhand, personal comment will reach millions of listeners, many of whom are passionately loyal fans. And to say that they aren’t going to be influenced by his words would be disingenuous.
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