Attendees at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in August will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the trade association announced Monday.
The move comes after HIMSS canceled the 2020 conference because of the pandemic. This year conference goers will have to provide proof of vaccination, and the group said it will specify what proof will be accepted, with a focus on, "accessible, privacy-preserving technologies."
Educational sessions, networking and exhibition spaces will all be cleaned more frequently and sanitization stations will be located throughout the Venetian-Sands Expo Center, Caesars Forum Conference Center and Wynn in Las Vegas. HVAC systems will also be upgraded to better filter and ventilate air.
"After careful consideration and consultation with internal and external health and safety experts, HIMSS has determined that HIMSS21 can be the most robust, productive and interactive conference possible by requiring vaccinations for entry," HIMSS' website states.
The HIMSS gathering is one of the largest conferences of health IT professionals in the U.S.; in 2020 37,000 were registered with 1,300 exhibitors. The trade group paid a $2.8 million settlement last year in a class action lawsuit because HIMSS didn't issue refunds to exhibitors after the 2020 cancellation. The group has since faced pushback over its decision to not refund exhibitors and sponsors, citing a force majeure clause in its exhibitor contracts. Instead, HIMSS has offered partial credit on 2021 and 2022 conference participation.
Mewanwhile, legal experts are mixed on whether requiring vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test to attend a conference runs up against regulations or laws like HIPAA.