Massively popular podcaster Joe Rogan, who has repeatedly sown doubt about COVID-19 vaccines, admitted this week that he almost got vaccinated a few months ago but scheduling conflicts caused him to miss his appointment.
During a marathon three-hour interview with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta on The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan wanted to make it clear to both Gupta and his audience that he is not actually anti-vaccine. And his proof was that he had planned to get the shot but never actually did.
According to the influential comedian, he actually made an appointment in Las Vegas earlier this year to receive a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, he said, logistical issues at the time made it unable for him to get the shot.
Although he never made another appointment, even for a different brand’s shot, Rogan pointed to the brief pause in the J&J jabs issued by federal health officials as a reason he was unable to reschedule. (Rogan previously said in April that he was scheduled for the Johnson & Johnson shot but the appointment was canceled due to the pause.)
Rogan ultimately held this up as proof that he is not vaccine-resistant or opposed to vaccinations.
The podcast host’s vaccine status became a hot-button issue in August when Rogan revealed that he had contracted COVID-19. Having previously downplayed the seriousness of the virus and saying fit young people don’t need to be vaccinated, Rogan admittedly threw “the kitchen sink” at the virus after he felt “run down” by the illness. His treatments famously included monoclonal antibodies and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that is popular with the anti-vaccine crowd but has shown no benefits for treating the coronavirus.
The 54-year-old comic, despite having suffered through COVID-19, still told Gupta that he does not regret his failure to get vaccinated before he fell ill. Comparing his bout with the virus to a “bad cold” and stating that he recovered fairly quickly, Rogan noted that it wasn’t necessary to get the shot as he’s a “healthy person” and is “always taking vitamins.”
At the same time, he suggested a best course of action for other people—one that does involve getting vaccinated.
“You know what I think you should do?” Rogan, who once called himself a “fucking moron” on this particular subject, wondered aloud. “I think you should get vaccinated and then get sick. This is why: because then you got the vaccine protects you from a bad infection and then you get COVID so then you get the robust immunity that’s imparted from having the actual disease itself.”
He added, “Get vaccinated, let it wane, and hang around with a bunch of dirty people.”
After Gupta pushed back, saying it’s “not a strategy to recommend people get infected” with the disease, Rogan insisted that wasn’t his intention. He then pivoted to complaining about CNN’s “dangerous” coverage of his ivermectin use, claiming the network was “lying about me taking horse medication.” Rogan has already threatened to sue the network for suggesting he took the version of ivermectin meant for livestock.
Gupta, for his part, admitted that CNN anchors “shouldn’t have said that” Rogan took a “horse dewormer,” confessing that he “should’ve asked.”
Following his appearance on Rogan’s podcast, Gupta penned an op-ed about the experience, explaining his intention was not only to convince Rogan that vaccines were safe, effective, and necessary; but to also reach the comedian’s massive audience.
“I guess a small part of me thought I might change Joe Rogan's mind about vaccines,” he wrote. “After this last exchange, I realized it was probably futile. His mind was made up, and there would always be plenty of misinformation out there neatly packaged to support his convictions. Truth is though, I am still glad I did it. My three-hour-long conversation wasn't just with Rogan. If just a few of his listeners were convinced, it will have been well worth it.”
Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here