During an appearance on the "Riffs Or Die" podcast hosted by HAVOK's David Sanchez, vocalist Freddy Cricien New York hardcore veterans MADBALL discussed his band's recent announcement that they will not perform in any venue that requires audience members to be vaccinated against COVID-19. At the time, MADBALL said that it will likely not make any live appearances in its hometown "for a very long time" because it "cannot in good conscience play shows that require personal/private medical information (like vaccination status) for entry."
In early August, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York will be the first U.S. city to to require COVID-19 vaccinations for concert attendees, although the city will not enforce the mandate until mid-September. Proof of at least partial vaccination will be required.
Addressing the fan reaction to MADBALL's stance on the issue, Freddy said: "I saw a lot of positive responses, but I did see some people speaking against it. Others were pushing their agenda, whatever it was.
"Vaccinated or unvaccinated, I'm not down with the process, what they're trying to implement, what they're trying to mandate, what they're trying to do," he explained. "I can't co-sign that."
Like antivaccine activists, talk show hosts, and far-right politicians, Freddy made the vaccines' "experimental" nature a talking point. He also suggested that rising COVID-19 cases are proof that vaccines are at least a partial failure.
"Here, take this shot that doesn't work," Cricien said. "Maybe I'm overstating that; maybe it works to some degree. But it's crazy. Take this experimental thing that has recently been proven to not do what a vaccine is supposed to do. Very weird. And then beyond that, there's some people that just don't get down with that stuff, and you have to respect that — be it for religious reasons, be it for personal reasons. Some people have medical reasons why they can't get vaccinated — legit medical reasons. I know many people that their doctors are, like, 'If you get this, you're not gonna do well.' So there's a multitude of reasons why people don't wanna get it, or can't. But now we're creating this situation where you have to get it to participate in society. That doesn't feel right to me on so many levels… It sets a bad predecent. It sets a bad example. Besides infringing upon human rights and civil rights, it's just morally, in every way, not right; it's wrong."
Freddy also spoke about the fact that some music venues across the U.S. are implementing requirements for attendance, including having audience members either provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
"Look, I know people that run venues," he said. "Some of them are close friends of mine. Some of them are guys I grew up with. I don't wanna see them lose their jobs. So I don't wanna see the people that are just trying to keep their jobs, I don't wanna see them fail personally, especially if they're friends of mine, people close to me. But when you enable to do stuff like this, there's a bigger picture to it. People just think, 'It's just a technicality.' No, behind the veil, there's a lot more going on. And so if you support it, you're essentially enabling this system to come into place."
A vaccine passport is a physical or digital document that displays whether someone is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Critics say that such passports are a violation of privacy and an example of government overreach. Meanwhile, supporters point out that federal immigration law already requires that immigrants provide proof of vaccination status for several diseases.
There's plenty of precedent for having to show proof of vaccination whether for work or travel. For a century, nearly every school in the U.S. has been requiring proof of vaccinations for students to enroll. Dozens of countries across the globe require a "Yellow Fever Card" to enter their borders.
Proponents of vaccine passports, including several high-profile heavy metal musicians, have touted them as one of the most effective ways to reopen the nation's economy in a safe manner.
This past April, TWISTED SISTER frontman Dee Snider said that he was in favor of some kind of a coronavirus vaccine passport program whereby concert venues can ask patrons to show proof of testing or vaccination before attending certain events. Snider addressed the hot-button issue in a tweet, writing: "I get that some people are wary of this, but I want a vaccine passport in the worst fucking way! I wave my vaccination card around like a flag! I've got nothing to hide and if a vaccine passport will let me go places without all these covid protocols sign me the fuck up!"
Earlier that same month, TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick said that the recent announcement by various clubs and promoters around the country that they would begin staging events for only those guests who show proof of full vaccination was "what we need to do." He explained: "To go to certain countries, we need to get a yellow fever shot, and we carry this card that's put out by the World Health Organization that is proof of vaccination. What's the difference? We've been doing this for years. We wouldn't think otherwise. We don't wanna risk getting somebody else sick. So why would there be an issue here? And then, when people complain about the vaccine — 'I don't know what's in it. I'm suspicious…' Well, are you suspicious of the polio vaccine? 'Cause I think everybody gets that. I don't think you leave the hospital without getting certain vaccines."
Alex added: "I'm just amazed how people aren't aware of this. There's measles, mumps, polio… There's vaccines that we've been getting for years, and that's why we're not getting measles or mumps, or why we're not being forced to not be able to walk because of polio — because we get these vaccines. And the same medical and scientific communities that are behind those vaccines are behind these vaccines.
"My patience is running thin for these types," Skolnick concluded.
Experts have repeatedly said that a COVID-19 vaccine is the single most important tool for preventing infections and protecting against moderate and severe disease. Some variants, such as delta, may be more likely to cause breakthrough infections, but vaccinations have shown protection against symptomatic disease caused by delta. Unvaccinated people are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated. In the United States, 97% of the hospitalizations over the past three months, since delta came on the scene, have been in unvaccinated people. Ninety-nine percent of the people who have died of COVID-19 in the last three months were unvaccinated.