Dr. Anthony Fauci emphasized that even if healthy people get COVID-19 and don’t have any symptoms, “you are propagating the outbreak” and can harm others more at risk
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Joe Rogan
Dr. Anthony Fauci; Joe Rogan
| Credit: Alex Wong/Getty; Ronald Martinez/Getty

Dr. Anthony Fauci is forcefully denying podcast host Joe Rogan's claims that young, healthy people don't need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Wednesday morning, Fauci was asked about the Joe Rogan Experience host's declaration that "If you're like 21 years old and you say to me, 'Should I get vaccinated,' I say no … If you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time and you're young and you're eating well, I don't think you need to worry about this."

Rogan's comments drew criticism towards him and Spotify, which exclusively hosts his highly popular podcast. And speaking with Savannah Guthrie on Today, Fauci said that Rogan's claim was "incorrect."

"The reason why is that you're talking about yourself in a vacuum then. You're worried about yourself in the likelihood that you're not going to get any symptoms," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. "But you can get infected and will get infected if you put yourself at risk."

Fauci pointed out that even if a young person only has a mild illness, which is not a guarantee with plenty of healthy people dealing with lasting side effects from the virus, they can still harm others.

"Even if you don't have any symptoms, you are propagating the outbreak because it is likely that you, even if you have no symptoms, that you may inadvertently and innocently then infect someone else, who may infect someone else who will really have a problem with a severe outcome," he said. "So if you want to only worry about yourself, and not society, then that's okay. But if you're saying to yourself, 'Even 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 be vaccinated."

Fauci ended by emphasizing that young people should "absolutely, absolutely" get vaccinated against COVID-19.

RELATED VIDEO: Fully Vaccinated Americans Can Go Outdoors Without Masks, CDC Says in New Guidance

The nation's top infectious diseases expert also discussed the Centers for Disease Control's new guidance on mask-wearing, which they announced yesterday. The federal health agency now says that fully vaccinated people can safely go outdoors without a mask, as long as they're not in large crowds of people at venues like a concert or baseball stadium.

The new guidelines "mean that we're going in the right direction," Fauci said. "Even though, as mentioned correctly, there have been so many cases, we have over 570,000 deaths in the United States, so this is still an issue, we're still getting tens of thousands of new cases per day. But the thing that's become clear, just from the scientific evidence, is that the risk of getting infected if you are vaccinated and outdoors is extremely low, I mean minusculely low, and that's the reason why the CDC has now come out and made these recommendations, making it much more flexible for people who are vaccinated to get out and enjoy the outdoors."

Fauci said that as new COVID-19 cases continue to fall, he expects "the CDC come back and be more flexible" about their advice on mask-wearing.  

"Right now they're going to slowly about it, they're being very prudent about it, but as the case numbers come down they're going to be pulling back on some of the restrictions, guaranteed," he said.