Joe Rogan attempted to clear the air over his controversial statements suggesting that young people should not get vaccinated for COVID-19.
In Thursday’s episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” on Spotify, the hugely popular podcaster maintained that he is not an anti-vaxxer — and he admitted that it “makes sense” for even young, healthy people to get vaccinated in the interests of public health.
“I’m not an anti-vax person. In fact, I said I believe they’re safe and I encourage many people to take ’em,” Rogan said in the episode, in a conversation with comedian Andrew Santino. “I just said, I don’t think that if you’re a young, healthy person, that you need it.”
That earlier comment, made in his podcast last week, prompted critics — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert — to dispute him by pointing out it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated in order to stop the spread of the virus.
On Thursday, Rogan said he sees the point: “Their argument was, you need [the vaccine] for other people. That makes more sense.”
Popular on Variety
Rogan said that “when I say something stupid, I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it.” At another point, he said, “I’m not a doctor, I’m a fucking moron, and I’m a cage-fighting commentator who’s a dirty stand-up comedian… I’m not a respected source of information — even for me.”
Rogan also revealed that he nearly received the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The UFC had allocated a certain number of shots for employees and offered one to Rogan. But Rogan said he had to reschedule the shot, and before he could get it, federal health authorities paused the J&J vaccine.
On the April 23 episode of the podcast, Rogan had said, “If you’re, like, 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go, ‘No’… 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.”
After Rogan’s comments on the podcast went viral, he drew fire for spreading dangerous misinformation. Fauci, on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday, said that not only can young people contract COVID-19, they can spread it to others and that the disease can be deadly.
“If you want to only worry about yourself and not society, then that’s OK,” Fauci said. But people should realize that “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.”
“The Joe Rogan Experience” is currently the No. 1 podcast on Spotify in the U.S., On Wednesday, Spotify said in its Q1 earnings announcement that Rogan’s show performed above expectations with respect to new user additions and engagement for the period.
In the past Spotify has removed multiple episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” since first launching it last September, including past segments with various right-wing guests. In the case of Rogan’s recommendation that healthy young people don’t need to be vaccinated, Spotify left that up because the company’s content-moderation team concluded that he did not explicitly tell people to not get vaccinated.
Full episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” became exclusive to Spotify in December 2020. Clips from the show are posted to YouTube.