Fauci: Joe Rogan is wrong to say that 21-year-olds don't need to get vaccinated

When he’s right, he’s right. Here was Rogan yesterday:

Are 21-year-olds at much lower risk of serious complications from COVID than older adults? For sure. Does that mean they shouldn’t get vaccinated? Of course not. For two reasons, the first of which is that although the risk is small, adults routinely hedge against small risks when a bad outcome is potentially catastrophic.

If you have a tiny chance of contracting a disease that will debilitate or kill you and there’s a free, freely available vaccine around that’ll further mitigate that risk, why wouldn’t you take it? What risk does the vaccine pose that makes it more of a threat to you than COVID?

Second reason: Are we still aiming for herd immunity or not? Because if we are, millions of people who are at little risk of serious illness will need to get vaccinated anyway to prevent themselves from becoming vectors of transmission. Rogan’s advice to twentysomethings took an individualist point of view. Are you personally in danger from COVID? No? Then why immunize yourself with a brand new vaccine? But individualism misses the community risk from a contagious disease. Every unvaccinated twentysomething is a potential carrier who might infect someone who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons, or in a worst-case scenario might host a mutation that ends up becoming a dangerous variant.

And ultimately herd immunity is a good individualist strategy too. “Breakthrough infections” among vaccinated people do happen, although they’re rare. The only way to guarantee that you won’t become desperately ill from COVID after getting your shots is to never come in contact with the virus. The more people are vaccinated, the less the virus spreads, the lower the probability that it’ll ever reach you and put your immune system to the test.

Fauci was asked about Rogan’s comments in an interview this morning on the “Today” show. Watch, then read on:

The White House took a shot at Rogan too:

“I guess my first question would be, did Joe Rogan become a medical doctor while we weren’t looking?” White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told CNN on Wednesday in response to a question about the podcast host’s remarks. “I’m not sure that taking scientific and medical advice from Joe Rogan is perhaps the most productive way for people to get their information.”

Derision isn’t the right approach here. Hopefully Rogan will have Fauci on to chat about why twentysomethings should get the shot even though most who do won’t benefit in a meaningful way. He’s good about listening to opposing viewpoints, which is one reason why his podcast is popular. And he has a huge audience of young men, exactly the group that needs to hear the other side of the argument he made yesterday. Frankly, Fauci should reach out and ask to come on to explain. I doubt Rogan would say no.