Popular podcast host and comedian Joe Rogan recently said he believes healthy young people don't "need to worry" about getting vaccinated for COVID.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor and the nation's leading expert on infectious disease, says that guidance is "incorrect." Young healthy people should "absolutely" get vaccinated, Fauci said during an interview with NBC News' TODAY on Wednesday.
On an episode of the podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience" published April 23, Rogan said he supported vulnerable people getting vaccinated. "But if you're like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I'll go no," Rogan told comedian Dave Smith on the podcast.
"If you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time, and you're young, and you're eating well, like, I don't think you need to worry about this," Rogan said, referring to getting vaccinated for COVID.
Young healthy adults do not exist in a vacuum, Fauci told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie when asked about Rogan's comments. "You're worried about yourself getting infected and likelihood that you're not going to get symptoms," he said. "But you can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk."
People who are not vaccinated "are propagating the outbreak," because they can "inadvertently and innocently" get infected and transmit the virus to someone else who could be at risk of severe illness from COVID, Fauci said. (There are also some people who are vulnerable to COVID but are medically not able to get vaccinated due to health conditions or things like allergic reactions, for example.)
"So if you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that's okay," Fauci said. "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, and that's the reason why you've got to be careful and get vaccinated."
President Joe Biden urged people who haven't been vaccinated yet "especially if you're younger or thinking you don't need it" to get their vaccines, during a White House press briefing on the COVID response Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated people can exercise and hold small outdoor gatherings without masks.
"Yes, the vaccines are about saving your life, but also the lives of the people around you," Biden said. "But they're also about helping to get us get back to closer to normal."
As of Wednesday, the CDC reports that 43% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and 29% of the population is fully vaccinated. Everyone ages 16 and up is now eligible to get the COVID vaccine.
Rogan was the highest-earning podcaster of 2020, making $30 million according to Forbes. In May, Rogan struck a licensing deal with Spotify reportedly worth more than $100 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. And Unilever announced Monday that it acquired Onnit, a food supplement brand in which Rogan is a major shareholder.