AAO will hold its 2021 annual meeting Nov. 12-15 in New Orleans, La. The organization’s Board of Trustees determined that proof of COVID-19 vaccination would be necessary for everyone attending the annual meeting.
“Every AAO 2021 attendee, all Academy staff, exhibitors and guests will be required to show proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter the convention center,” AAO said in a guidance released on its website.
Prior to arriving on site, attendees will be asked to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
AAO will work with a third-party vendor to manage the verification of vaccination records, with instructions provided to pre-registrants on how to verify their vaccination status by Sept.15.
If attendees arrive at the convention center without having completed vaccine verification, it could result in delays while the AAO verifies information.
Unvaccinated attendees can register for the virtual option. Anyone who is registered and would like to switch to virtual attendance can email a written request to firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 29.
AAO is defining “fully vaccinated” as receiving your final dose two weeks before Nov. 10. This would include the second dose in a 2-dose series, such as with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the one shot of a single-dose vaccine such as with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
Anyone who is not fully vaccinated by the Nov. 10 deadline can switch to the virtual meeting option. The deadline to make that switch without penalty is also Oct. 29.
The academy also is encouraging all attendees to wear masks, regardless of any local mandates. Attendees also will be required to wear a mask on the meeting shuttle buses due to a mask mandate on all forms of public transportation by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
AAO also noted that there will be a number of onsite safety measures in place during the event, with all meeting rooms set up to allow for social distancing.
The convention center and AV staff will be cleaning all meeting rooms between sessions, including chairs, tables, podium and microphones.
Throughout the conference center, hand sanitizing stations will be available for attendees. Whenever possible, food and beverage will be served individually packaged.
Rapid COVID-19 testing also will be available in the convention center for anyone who may experience symptoms and for travelers who must show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test for their return flights.
AAO also urges international attendees to check current travel restrictions to the United States on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website before making any travel plans.