Monday, May 17, 2021 | 4:00 PM ET
Taking a stand on vaccines at HLTH 2021
Jonathan Weiner, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, HLTH
Following the science is our best path forward
With COVID-19 showing dramatic improvements in the United States, we are gradually experiencing a return to more normal daily routines and business activities. The HLTH team is looking forward to welcoming our community back to an in-person event in Boston on October 17-20. We will also offer a full digital component for those unable to travel and join us this year.
We are, however, cognizant of the risk of COVID-19 transmission from unvaccinated individuals. Concerns remain and are justified. The context of mass suffering in India, WHO’s declaration of ‘an unacceptably high plateau’ in the global case rate, as well as continued concerns about the spread of B.1.617 and development of other highly transmissible variants are reminders that we cannot relax our efforts to halt the pandemic.
We are acutely aware of our privilege and responsibility to frontline healthcare providers, who have put their lives on the line to save ours, and to the healthcare industry that has worked tirelessly alongside them to develop and provide access to vaccines, increase production of protective equipment, and much more. We recognize their sacrifice and celebrate their achievements during this global crisis.
While there is still much to be learned about COVID, one thing remains clear, and that is, a fully vaccinated population is our best hope for preventing the spread, saving lives and putting an end to this pandemic.
The HLTH team remains unequivocally devoted to safeguarding our staff, attendees and the local community hosting HLTH. We cannot and will not ignore the science: vaccinated individuals are the most unlikely demographic to catch or transmit COVID. Those who remain unvaccinated, are the most at risk and also pose a significant risk to others.
For these reasons and, having carefully considered all viable options, we have made the decision to require everyone who plans to join us in person at HLTH 2021 to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
We all play an important role, and have a responsibility, in pushing for herd immunity--for our mutual health, for the overall economy and as the only means of protecting those who may not have an option to get vaccinated. Further, clear assurance that we’re adhering to the highest standards of health protection will facilitate confidence and reduce concerns for those attending our event in person and looking to us to do the right thing.
As we see restrictions ease on the wearing of masks and social distancing requirements, it is our goal to offer an environment where our attendees feel safe and are safe. We will make every effort to ensure an excellent on-site experience and will continuously evaluate our approach. It is our hope that we will be able to make the wearing of masks a personal decision and minimize social distancing restrictions throughout HLTH 2021--including the evening networking events. All decisions will be based upon guidance from state and local leadership as well as best practices determined by the CDC. The HLTH community has anticipated this moment - the chance to gather in person once again - and we are committed to making it a productive, high-value reunion and creating an occasion to acknowledge all that has transpired during the pandemic.
Modeling digital health transformation, HLTH registrants will be able to use CLEAR’s Health Pass, a free mobile experience on the CLEAR app, where they will be able to submit proof of vaccination, ensuring a safe and frictionless event. HLTH will release full details on how the process will work and publish a comprehensive COVID mitigation plan for its 2021 event in the coming weeks.
We also recognize and appreciate that there are some members of our community that may choose not to get vaccinated, for reasons such as health issues or religious beliefs. We must balance that with our responsibility to create an environment for the fully vaccinated attendees that we will welcome to HLTH 2021. Any attendee who remains unvaccinated or simply is not ready to travel, will have the option to participate in HLTH 2021 through our digital platform.
Boston, as our host city, is a national leader in healthcare and life sciences. During this time of transitioning back to some sense of normalcy, we are grateful for the knowledgeable leadership and ongoing efforts of city and state leaders and BCEC staff who have partnered with us and continuously informed us, ensuring a safe event for all.
For most, HLTH’s vaccine requirement will come as a relief. We recognize that some will strongly disagree with our decision, but we ask for your understanding. For any individual already registered to attend HLTH 2021 in person who does not plan to get vaccinated by the start of the event, we will work with you to convert your registration to a digital pass, refund your registration without penalty or transfer to HLTH 2022. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make the switch.
On behalf of the entire HLTH team, we are grateful for your support and for the frontline healthcare workers, essential workers, industry professionals and everyone else following the science to save lives. We will continue communicating directly and openly with you as plans evolve, and invite you to reach out with comments, questions or concerns. We hope to see you at HLTH 2021!