Montreal Foo Fighters fan and AZ vaccine recipient excluded from U.S. concert

To call Johanne Bowe Montreal's biggest fan of rock band Foo Fighters would be an understatement.

She travelled the world numerous times to see the Seattle rockers and has accumulated countless photos, selfies with band members, and backstage passes.

“This is backstage in Colorado, and me in Boston, Quebec City, Iceland, this is when I went to California,” she said, pointing to her collection.

But her dream of seeing them this Sunday in New York City faded away as she was about to buy her tickets last week. It’s the band’s first concert in front of a full audience since the pandemic, and the first major event without attendance limit at the Madison Square Garden.

“The pop-up came up and it said it's a fully vaccinated show, and you have to be fully vaccinated,” she said.

Bowe is fully vaccinated -- but here’s the catch: the venue stated that only people vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines would be allowed in.

Bowe, like millions of Canadians, received the AstraZeneca shots.

“I called guest relations and they said, ‘No, sorry, you will be denied entry,’” explained Bowe. She was told they were following New York state rules who, in turn, decided to only accept FDA-approved vaccines. AstraZeneca has not been approved for use in the U.S., even if it’s manufactured and exported by an American pharmaceutical company.

The same rule hit Bruce Springsteen fans wishing to attend the musician's solo performance on Broadway throughout the summer, as Springsteen fan and bioethicist Kerry Bowman found out.

Bowman also received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It's really quite a blow, especially when you look at the clinical evidence of the vaccine,” said the public health expert from the University of Toronto.

We didn't find other U.S. jurisdictions applying these rules, but Canadian authorities said there could be a solution.

“We will make sure that individuals in Ontario and Canada receive a Health Canada-approved document so AstraZeneca [recipients] will have the same rights as individuals who received other vaccines,” explained Ontario solicitor general Sylvia Jones.

But it won't happen overnight, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“For the fall, in the medium term, we are working with the provinces to establish national certification of vaccination status, that will be easily accessible around the world,” he said.

But Bowe thinks New York's rules are absurd.

“All of Europe is AstraZeneca, it's crazy,” she said.

She's come to terms with missing Sunday's show, but hopes these rules aren't the beginning of a trend.

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