AUSTIN, Texas — Popular podcaster and Central Texas resident Joe Rogan is sparking controversy online for what he said about recommending COVID-19 vaccines to certain people.
On his podcast, "The Joe Rogan Experience," he advocated against healthy young adults receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
"And people say, 'Do you think it's safe to get vaccinated?' I've said, 'Yeah, I think for the most part it's safe to get vaccinated, I do, I do,'" he said. "But if you're like 21 years old, you say to me, 'Should I get vaccinated?' I go, 'No.' Are you healthy? Are you a healthy person? Don't do anything stupid but you should take care of yourself."
Rogan's no doctor, but his audience is large. His podcast was reportedly the most popular one on Spotify last year.
Doctors and government leaders from both sides of the aisle have encouraged young people to get vaccinated because while they may not get the most severe symptoms from COVID-19, they may be more likely to gather in social settings where the virus can spread.
In fact, a CDC report from June to August 2020 found that COVID-19 incidence was the highest in people ages 20 to 29, who accounted for more than 20% of all confirmed cases.
"Strict adherence to community mitigation strategies and personal preventive behaviors by younger adults is needed to help reduce infection and subsequent transmission to persons at higher risk for severe illness," the report said.
Other health experts – including Dr. Mark Escott, Austin Public Health's Interim Health Authority – have said that while the likelihood of dying from COVID-19 is lower for young adults, it is possible.
"Younger people are less likely to have severe disease. They're a lot less likely to die. But those chances are larger than zero," Dr. Escott said during an Austin City Council joint meeting with the Travis County Commissioners Court on April 13.
In Travis County, as of April 24, six people 20 to 29 years old have died from COVID-19.
As of April 23, the latest data on the Texas Department of State Health Services COVID-19 dashboard shows 48,897 people have died in Texas because of COVID-19. People 20 to 29 years old accounted for 238 of the reported deaths.
During a CDC Partner Call in October, Dr. Greta Massetti said it is important for young adults to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Although young adults are reported to experience lower risks for severe disease and death from infection with SARS-CoV-2, they can experience severe disease themselves and can transmit an infection to others at higher risk for severe illness," Dr. Massetti said. "There is an urgent need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among young adults."
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccinations are key to not just preventing illness in individuals, but stopping the pandemic overall.
Currently in Texas, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 years or older are permitted to receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. The CDC recommends people get vaccinated "as soon as you are eligible."
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