Top White House officials rebuked comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan on Wednesday after he advised his younger listeners against getting the coronavirus vaccine.
Rogan made those comments on last Friday’s episode of his eponymous show, “The Joe Rogan Experience” on Spotify, which is the audio streaming service’s most popular podcast.
“If you’re like 21 years old and you say to me, ‘Should I get vaccinated?’ I’ll go, ‘No,’” Rogan said, adding: “If you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time and you’re young and you’re eating well, I don’t think you need to worry about this.”
Rogan’s remarks to his legion of fans — which have since spread widely on social media — come at a particularly inconvenient moment for White House officials, who are working to persuade the vaccine-hesitant, especially conservative men and younger Americans, to get their shots as the U.S. vaccine supply begins to outpace demand.
“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 Rogan’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.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, also described Rogan’s recommendation as self-serving and counter to the overarching goal of stopping Covid-19’s spread.
“Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you are propagating the outbreak,” Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show. “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. So if you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK.”
Biden announced last week that his administration had achieved its target of 200 million coronavirus vaccinations during his first 100 days in office, with the U.S. entering “a new phase” of its vaccine campaign as shots become available across the U.S. to adults 16 and older.
And on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rolled out new guidance on the use of face masks — announcing that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors when in small groups with other fully vaccinated friends and family, and in some circumstances can go without masks even with unvaccinated people.