August 9, 2021
As the spread of the new Delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to upend all of the progress made by organizations attempting to return to in-person events, many are wondering how and if they should continue to produce and plan their events.
It is hard to be certain of the right decision when the pandemic has caused so much uncertainty, but by analyzing and learning from other organizations’ attempts we can decide the right course of action.
The biggest question so far: Can we require proof of COVID-19 vaccination?
According to The Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact, “There are no legal mechanisms in place that would prevent any institution, whether it’s an employer or school, from mandating COVID-19 shots, though exemptions can be made for those with certain disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs, as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Many organizations producing in-person events are taking steps to protect against the pandemic, but not all are requiring vaccinations. Here are three organizations hosting in-person conferences in the near future and how they are handling COVID-19 preparedness.
For many business owners and organization leadership, requiring proof of vaccination may be a touchy subject to bring up to your board or members. But the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society has taken the initiative and mandated that vaccinations are required for all in-person attendees at their upcoming August conference.
HIMSS is offering two free options for vaccine validation on their website as well as a free on-site option for those who do not want their health information registered online. Attendees, speakers and vendors must have proof of vaccination,a picture ID and must wear a mask in order to pick up their conference badges.
Additionally, The Linux Foundation is also mandating that all in-person attendees of their events are required to provide proof of vaccination for all of their events through the end of the year. For their events, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be submitted by attendees through a secure vaccine verification application.
The Linux Foundation has also carefully explained what it means to be “fully vaccinated” noting that “a person is considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after the second dose of a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single dose of a one-dose vaccine.”
This association conference is taking a different approach. Overlooked by a certified safe meetings planner, Non Dues-A-Palooza is watching all of the COVID-19 updates closely and working with their Nashville venue for any accommodations needed.
Event producer Teri Carden shared that it’s looking as if they will not require vaccines for attendees, and that they will be in alignment with the Tennessee state laws specific to gatherings of their size. While she fully expects participants to be back in masks, their venue is designed to have people spread out — hopefully avoiding any issues.
It is clear that no matter what your organization decides to do about vaccination requirements there is still a focus on safety and positive growth. Take some time to look into organizations like the ones above and make your own educated and informed decisions.
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Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A soon-to-be graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work and education with her love of dogs. Taking her three dogs — Scooby, Pipsqueak and Moose — to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.