Joe Rogan: Look, fine, I guess it makes sense for young adults to get vaccinated

He took a ton of heat for what he said a few days ago about 21-year-olds not needing to get immunized because their personal risk from COVID is low, including from the White House and Anthony Fauci. Why do people care so much? Because Rogan’s audience isn’t just huge, it skews young. And the young have been the toughest nut to crack on vaccine resistance.

That was Rogan’s defense when he addressed the matter in today’s podcast, that he’s just a dude saying what he thinks. “I am not a doctor. I am a f***ing moron. I am a cage-fighting commentator,” he told his listeners this afternoon. “I am not a respected source of information even for me. But I at least try to be honest about what I am saying.” Which is normally fine and part of the charm of the show, but people understandably get anxious when what he thinks happens to run counter to a national push towards herd immunity.

Most of his assertions are wild claims — that astronauts didn’t land on the moon, or that the government found aliens in Roswell. Normally, it’s easy enough to shake off his ramblings, but experts say his questioning of both vaccines and the severity of covid-19 is putting people at risk.

Misinformation coming from someone like Rogan “continues to perpetuate doubt,” said Kolina Koltai, a vaccine misinformation researcher at the University of Washington. “A lot of young adults follow him … and he’s encouraging people to have hesitation.”

Koltai pointed out that “no one is getting all of their information from Joe Rogan.” But when his comments clash with what experts tell us, it helps muddy the waters. “Hearing these conflicting messages from someone you might trust and someone you might agree with typically, it can potentially cause you to be concerned,” she said. “Oftentimes, it just ends up confusing people and making them not sure what to do.”

Something I didn’t know until today: Rogan said in January that he wouldn’t be getting the vaccine because he didn’t think he needed it. Today he said that he was actually scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson shot recently before the FDA paused it to investigate blood clot side effects. He doesn’t elaborate in the clip below on whether he still plans to get it or what changed his mind between three months ago and now, but his thinking back then about not needing it mirrors what he said a few days ago about 21-year-olds. In both cases he was considering only the personal risk from infection, not the community risk from transmission.

He allowed today that it makes sense for young adults to get vaxxed for the latter reason, to prevent them from infecting someone more vulnerable, but called it a “different conversation.” Eh, not really. The more people get vaccinated, the less the virus will spread in the community, the lower each individual’s *personal* risk of infection will drop. The only surefire way to avoid getting infected, even if you’re already vaccinated, is if there’s so much immunity in the surrounding population that the virus can’t spread. Absent a good reason to avoid the vaccine, why not do your part to achieve that?

Here he is talking about it. There’s some profanity so take care if you’re at work. Oh, and a word of advice to his friend, who had COVID last year and recently got his first Moderna shot: He might want to skip the second. Not only does he probably already have more antibodies after one shot than uninfected people have after two, the side effects can reportedly be rough for those who’ve had the virus and then gotten double-dosed. One is probably enough.