Joe Rogan said he will not get the covid-19 vaccine on a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, the most popular podcast on Spotify, because he is healthy and isn’t sure about the vaccine safety—both issues that have been debunked on his very podcast.
When asked by guest Jamar Neighbors if he would take the vaccine, Rogan said, “No. I mean, I would if I felt like I needed it. I just feel like if you maintain your health—and I think for some people it’s important, for some people it’s good.”
And while Rogan himself is consistently self-deprecating on his podcast (“Here’s a really important point: I’m a fucking moron,” he said in response to the controversy over his endorsement of Bernie Sanders), he is one of the most listened to people in the world (his show was downloaded more than 190 million times per month before Spotify paid him more than $100 million to take his library and talents to the streaming service last May). And this is at a time when we need 75 to 80 percent of Americans to be vaccinated in the coming months in order to return to normalcy this year. Regarding the pace, “we have never done that with any other vaccine before,” said William Schaffner, MD, a Vanderbilt University infectious disease professor and the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
Here are a few reasons why Joe Rogan should change his mind—and maybe yours—about getting the vaccine as soon as he can.
“Very healthy” does not mean immune
While you may not end up on a ventilator or dead, your consequences may be different and long-lasting.
“We are seeing more and more healthy, young people who have had mild covid-19 with long-term effects of the virus, now being called long-haulers,” said Cuoghi Edens, MD, a doctor on the covid-19 management team at the University of Chicago Medicine. “Let me tell you, these patients are miserable. We have no medications to offer them, no idea how long their symptoms will last, if they will recover, or what long-term damage their body may have.”
Studies from around the world all say the same concerning thing: people who are otherwise healthy, many of whom experienced only mild symptoms of the disease, may have heart and lung abnormalities for months.
“Even some athletes are experiencing severe health effects from the infection, which is why everyone should get vaccinated as soon as they are able,” said Joseph Ross, MD, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
There have been several cases of long-haulers in the UFC, where Rogan has been a commentator since 1997. Just last week it was reported that rising UFC welterweight Khamzat Chimaev has had to pull out of a fight for the third time due to lingering effects of covid-19.
On The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan himself focused on this issue when he spoke with vaccine expert Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development: “One of the things that you brought up that I wanted to discuss is the damage that this virus does to the lungs and to the heart as well.”
That damage is significant, and possibly fatal. In one study from Ohio State, researchers found that 30 percent of athletes had cellular heart damage after recovering from covid-19 and 15 percent had signs of myocarditis—an inflammation of the heart muscle that’s a risk factor for sudden cardiac death.
The data is in on the safety of the covid-19 vaccine
Rogan saying he will not take the covid-19 vaccine represents a shift in his thinking—and he should shift back.
But in his podcast with Neighbors, he wasn’t so sure. “I want to know how people fare over X number of months,” Rogan said.
Rogan’s fear is not uncommon: indeed, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that nearly four out of ten Americans wanted to wait to see how the vaccine worked before rolling up their sleeves.
The good news is that the wait for data is over: Nearly 35 million people have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and there have been zero deaths. Meanwhile, the number of deaths from the disease in the United States is now more than 475,000.
Since one of the first groups prioritized were doctors, we accidentally got data on how the vaccine works in otherwise young and healthy people. “Healthcare workers, who for the most part are young, were first in line to be vaccinated with little side effects seen aside from those expected from the vaccine,” said Edens. Those side effects include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, and generally feeling shitty.
“A sore arm is a small price to pay to prevent having to be on a ventilator,” said Shaffner.
Rogan is right about vaccine funding, but it’s still important to take them
It’s not that Rogan has been spreading misinformation about covid-19—it’s quite the opposite. One of the most important messages from Rogan is about prevention for the next pandemic.
During Rogan’s conversation with Hotez, he asked, “Peter, is the possible silver lining to this cloud that this is a wake-up call for people to really take serious the funding of vaccines, the funding for pandemic research to make sure that we never let something like this ever happen again?”
While Hotez was skeptical (as a lecturer of global health at Harvard Medical School, I agree that money and interest vanish with a quickness when outbreaks are over, making the next epidemic inevitable), Rogan’s critical point that we need to fund vaccine research to prepare ourselves for the next outbreak doesn’t mean a whole lot if we don’t take the vaccines we fund.
While Rogan has said that he hopes “if another one comes around, they’re gonna be more prepared to do something like this quicker,” that something has got to include getting a vaccination when it is available.
Anthony Fauci said yesterday he believes by April every American, including the healthy and fit and freak bitches, will be able to get the vaccine. Joe Rogan, that means you.
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