Statement by Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS, AAO-HNS/F President, and James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO
August 12, 2021—The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and its Foundation (AAO-HNS/F) are implementing a policy that will require full COVID-19 vaccination of all participants of the 2021 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience in Los Angeles, California.
Safety is our first priority for the individuals and their families connected to the production of and participation in the Annual Meeting. Current thinking identifies fully vaccinated individuals wearing properly positioned masks as the most effective protection from all COVID-19 variants when in public indoor situations. Our mandatory vaccine policy, in addition to the current mask mandate in Los Angeles County will maximize the highest level of safety measures available for all who participate in-person for the Academy’s 125th anniversary celebration.
A safely run in-person meeting following evidence-based precautions and protocols can deliver tremendous value well beyond the educational content. The ability to connect and interact personally with colleagues, presenters, peers, and friends and reestablish our community cannot be understated.
The Academy will maintain its existing commitment to continually monitor and evaluate the situation in the weeks leading up to the Annual Meeting. If there are subsequent changes that could compromise the safety of our attendees, staff, or the public, we are prepared to convert to a virtual Annual Meeting that presents the full program.
The status of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unpredictable throughout its lifespan and as such, the Academy’s leadership determined at the start of the planning process that it would be prudent to include a virtual component to the 2021 Annual Meeting. With this planning in place, the Academy has the resources and tools immediately available should the transition to a fully virtual Annual Meeting be needed.
We recognize the concerns you have and competing priorities that you are balancing and weighing as COVID-19 continues to impact your practice, patients, and personal lives. In a long 125-year tradition, the Academy continues to seek ways to demonstrate timely and relevant support to members, and we hope this information is helpful to you in choosing how you will attend and participate in the 2021 Annual Meeting.