Hugely popular US podcast host Joe Rogan has backpedalled on his comments that young, healthy people could forgo the coronavirus vaccine.
“I’m not an anti-vax person,” Rogan said. “I believe they’re safe and encourage many people to take them.”
But Rogan did not walk back his suggestion that the young and healthy do not “need” vaccines, which drew backlash from White House officials.
Experts say everyone over 16 should get vaccinated to stop the virus’ spread.
The Joe Rogan Experience was Spotify’s most popular podcast in 2020, though the streaming giant did not share the number of times his episodes were downloaded. Rogan has more than seven million followers on Twitter and 12.5 million followers on Instagram.
His podcast was acquired by Spotify last year for more than $100m (£77m).
Asked about Rogan’s comments, top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci repeated guidance from experts that unvaccinated, asymptomatic people can still transmit Covid-19.
“Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you’re propagating the outbreak,” Dr Fauci said.
Rogan made the comments during a 23 April episode of his podcast, which was first reported by Media Matters this week.
In that episode, Rogan told listeners that he would not suggest the vaccine to a healthy 21-year-old. “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.”
Responding to the criticism on his podcast on Thursday, Rogan said the argument that young people need the vaccine “for other people” made sense.
“But that’s a different argument,” he added.
And Rogan stressed that he should not be a source of scientific advice. “I’m not a doctor,” he said. “I’m not a respected source of information, even for me.”
The TV host-turned media mogul regularly courts controversy for his blunt and sometimes inflammatory style on air. He has been accused of making sexist, racist and transphobic comments in his podcast. Rogan has denied these accusations and said his comments were taken out of context.