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Entertainment | American theaters shun AstraZeneca’s vaccine

David Screech had already selected his seats and entered his credit card information to obtain tickets for the show Springsteen on Broadway when he noticed the COVID-19 vaccination requirements: his two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would not allow him admission.

Posted on June 18, 2021

Melissa Couto Zuber
The Canadian Press

Mr. Screech, mayor of View Royal, British Columbia, and a Springsteen admirer of 40 years, received his second dose of the vaccine from AstraZeneca last week, but the Jujamcyn Theaters website says he would not allow that spectators “fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine”, either products from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

Executives at the New York venue stood firm when Mr. Screech contacted them directly to ask about the requirement, turning his enthusiasm for the show into disappointment. Although he is “very grateful” to have received two doses of an effective vaccine, Mr. Screech said he already had reservations about AstraZeneca, and that Broadway’s decision “certainly added to that “.

“Obviously, our health is much more important than being able to attend shows or concerts. But the flip side is that performing and performing has been a big part of my life,” Screech explained.

“And the idea of ​​not being able to go there for the foreseeable future because I may have had the wrong vaccine is a little disappointing. »

Springsteen on Broadway is not the only New York attraction to display strict vaccination rules.

Live recordings of TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert are also shying away from AstraZeneca’s vaccine rules listed on their websites, which say they are acting “in accordance with New York State guidelines.”

The New York Islanders, currently in the NHL playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning, don’t appear to have the same restrictions. While the team’s website says fans need proof of vaccination “in accordance with New York State guidelines,” the arena also offers “unvaccinated sections.”


New York Islanders fans must show proof of vaccination to attend a game at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but the team also offers “unvaccinated sections.”

The offices of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Health and Jujamcyn Theaters did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Dr Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist in Hamilton, was not surprised to see facilities beginning to adopt vaccine passports. But blocking people vaccinated with AstraZeneca from a Springsteen show struck him as particularly cruel.

“If there’s anything painful you can do to Gen X, that’s it,” said the Dr chuckled laughing.

Potential vaccine requirements for travelers could become even trickier if other countries start setting rules based on their own authorized shots, he added.

A sense of vaccine nationalism could lead some to insist that their licensed products are the standard to follow, he added, noting that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which was created with the same viral vector technology than that of AstraZeneca, was slightly less effective in clinical trials.

“It’s just a very arbitrary line, based on what the FDA has approved, [sans] recognize that AstraZeneca is endorsed by many other healthcare organizations around the world,” said Dr.r Chagla.

Private industries have the right to do whatever they want, but at the same time we need to have broader discussions about what is considered a fully immunized person and with which vaccines.

Dr Zain Chagla, infectious disease specialist

The DD Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, noted Thursday that “we are in the early days of travel resuming.” She urged Canadians to carefully consider the requirements of other countries and prepare for changing rules.

The DD Tam said global discussions could help the world “get to a point where we can accept each other’s data […] and consider a way forward that makes life easier and helps travelers, if they have also been vaccinated.”


The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, D.D Theresa Tam

The Dr Chagla said Canadians immunized with AstraZeneca’s vaccine may not face the same issues in Europe due to the widespread use of that vaccine there, but he expects more U.S. states adopt FDA-approved vaccine requirements.

That could mean more uncertainty for some people who received AstraZeneca’s product and plan to travel to the United States once the border reopens, he pointed out. About two million Canadians have been injected with AstraZeneca.

The Dr Chagla called on world leaders to establish a “benchmark” of potential vaccine needs and give people confidence in their injection.

“You really want people to feel that they are making the right decision, that they won’t face discrimination and that they will have access to everything that a vaccinated person will be entitled to,” he said. declared.

Andria Bianchi, a bioethicist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health, questioned the justification for the vaccine rule for the Broadway show.

If the goal is to make sure no one with COVID-19 enters the building, strict reliance on FDA-cleared vaccine passports isn’t the only way to do that.

“I hope that when a place develops policies or puts restrictions in place, that they are very well thought out and that all possible options are explored,” Bianchi.

“I imagine that many people who have received the vaccine from AstraZeneca will be frustrated and perhaps feel a sense of injustice. »

Mr. Screech said he hopes the rule for “Springsteen on Broadway” will change to reflect that AstraZeneca offers strong protection against COVID-19.

“But there is certainly some disappointment and a bit of trepidation as to what this means for (other) US theaters in the future. »

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