Health and Wellness

Pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau is vaccine-hesitant — like many young Americans. Here's a top infectious disease expert's response

Bryson DeChambeau
Sam Greenwood | Getty Images

Pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau is still not budging on getting vaccinated despite testing positive for Covid-19 and missing out on representing Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics.

"[I] don't need it," the 27-year-old told reporters Wednesday. "I'm a healthy, young individual that will continue to work on my health."

DeChambeau said he does not regret his decision because he doesn't want to take the vaccine away from someone "who needs it." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are no shortages of vaccines in the U.S. Yet DeChambeau's mindset is not uncommon in today's American workplaces, particularly among younger demographics. Almost 61% of Americans 18 years of age or older are fully vaccinated, compared to 80% of those 65 years of age or older.

Less than 50% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, as of Friday morning.

The golfer additionally defended his decision by saying the "vaccine doesn't necessarily prevent it from happening" anyway. According to the CDC, while no vaccine is 100% effective, these vaccines are the best way to prevent anyone from getting seriously ill and dying from Covid-19, by a large margin.

Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of Infectious Diseases at New Hyde Park, New York-based hospital network Northwell Health, says DeChambeau's claim is partially true — and partially dangerous. "[A] lot of young people will get [Covid-19] and be fine, but a lot won't be and they will regret it," Farber tells CNBC Make It.

Even if young, healthy people like DeChambeau don't fear getting sick, Farber says, they should fear potentially spreading the virus to people who are older, immunocompromised, or ineligible to be vaccinated. What's more, he adds, 27-year-olds can still develop long-term symptoms after contracting Covid — which DeChambeau would likely regret. Long-term efforts of Covid-19 can include difficulty breathing, headaches and chest or stomach pain, according to the CDC.

It can be difficult to change someone's mind about the vaccines. Farber's message to DeChambeau and others like him: "I saw a 53-year-old this morning who was not vaccinated and is critically ill with Covid, and he certainly regrets it. And if this 27-year-old's 75-year-old grandparent or parent comes down with Covid because somebody in the household [is unvaccinated] or he exposed somebody who's immunosuppressed, he will regret it."

For Farber, vaccine mandates could help change an unvaccinated person's mind — because the more that restaurants, ballparks, concerts and employers require proof of vaccination, the more someone may reconsider their decision. In April, the CDC released a more comprehensive set of guidelines for people to talk to family members and friends about getting the vaccine, including suggested questions to ask and responses to use.

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