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Best Practices for Managing Vaccine Requirements at Events

Updated

Keeping their team and event attendees safe from COVID-19 remains a top priority for event hosts. Imposing a vaccine mandate is the best way to ensure the safety of your attendees, but it can be difficult to manage this process. 

Are you legally required to impose a vaccine mandate — or on the flip side, does your state ban them entirely? How can you collect vaccination cards in a way that’s efficient but accurate? How can you communicate requirements to attendees? What backup options can you provide attendees? Should you spend thousands of dollars on a standalone vaccine card verification solution — or use one that's provided by your hybrid event software provider? You need a solid answer for all of these questions before imposing your vaccine mandate.  

In this article, we’ll tell you how to proactively address legal requirements and safety issues at your event, then develop a strategy for resourcing and executing this process. 

Step #1: Monitor local, state and federal authorities 

Regulations on vaccine mandates can change overnight. So before committing to a vaccine mandate, confirm that you can impose a vaccine mandate at your event (vaccine mandates were required during the summer in New York and Los Angeles, but they were illegal in Texas and Florida). Continue to check in, both on public health regulations and COVID caseloads, before your event as well. 

Step #2: Clearly communicate vaccination requirements well in advance 

Tell attendees as soon as possible that you’ll be collecting proof of vaccination. Provide clear guidelines of what information needs to be included with their vaccine verification: 

  1. Do they need to have received a booster shot? If you’re hosting a global event, you should also list the type of vaccinations that you will approve or deny, respectively. 
  2. Do they need proof that they’ve completed their full vaccination series? 
  3. Does the card need to include the date of vaccination? 

Leading up to your event, you’ll also want to provide educational resources and detailed guidance in your pre-event marketing (your emails, event site, etc.). 

Step #3: Invest in a secure event platform that includes vaccine card upload functionality 

Sure, you could manually check each attendee’s vaccination card during check-in. But that demands valuable time from your team on event day, and also creates a bottleneck in the attendee check-in process. This also increases the odds of attendees losing and forgetting their physical vaccination cards — and not being able to attend your event as a result.  

Allowing attendees to pre-load their vaccination proof eases these concerns. That’s why we encourage event planners to have attendees upload their vaccination cards to our platform during registration.  With an event platform like BigMarker, you can: 

  • collect and view the vaccination cards of each attendee
  • approve or deny registration based on vaccination status
  • verify that your attendees are protecting themselves and others against COVID-19.
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Attendees submit their vaccination cards during check-in.

Step #4A: Assign someone to approve or deny individual vaccination cards  

Next, you need to assign roles for verifying vaccination to your team members. Most importantly, you’ll need to assign staff members to check verification cards that are submitted at registration. 

To ensure safety for their attendees, it’s imperative that event organizers individually check vaccination cards for inconsistencies and irregularities. But what if you have 3000 in-person attendees? That gets cumbersome fast during the event planning process.  

But on BigMarker, you can easily flip through submitted vaccination cards and approve them in bulk. Here’s how it works: Your first registrant’s card appears in a pop-up window, you click Approve or Deny, click Save, then the next registrant’s card takes its place. Repeat until you’ve verified everyone. It’s that easy. 

This way, you can quickly scroll through the list and mark each registrant as vaccinated, unvaccinated or unknown. This information is also saved in your event’s registration dashboard so it’s centrally available to your entire team. 

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On BigMarker, you can view each attendee's vaccination card as shown.

Step #4B: Prepare and send automated emails for attendees with invalid credentials 

Maybe an attendee got their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine but never got around to shot 2. Maybe you’re requiring people to receive their booster shot to attend your event. Or maybe you require attendees to submit proof of vaccination via a file upload, and your attendees’ vaccination proof is on a mobile app. 

Whatever the case may be, some attendees may not be able to submit proof of vaccination in the required format right away. 

If you were collecting vaccination cards at the door during check-in, these people would be out of luck. However, if you require registrants to pre-upload their vaccine cards before registering, you can flag any potential issues and notify attendees right away. This gives them more time to secure the credentials they need — and saves everyone some heartburn. 

That’s why we have a set of automated emails that can be sent to attendees with invalid credentials. You can also customize the text, subject line, sender name, and email tokens to have full control over your communication with attendees.

Step #5: Check vaccination status in advance for large events

If you’re hosting a 1000+ person hybrid event, then doing a vaccine check on event day is a recipe for long waits and attendee dissatisfaction. 

That’s why we require in-person attendees to upload their vaccination cards to our event platform during the registration process. This way, your team can verify each attendee’s credentials well before event day — and your guests don’t need to frantically search their phones for that one screenshot from May 2021 while a line of 20 waits behind them. Everybody wins.

Step #6: Provide a hybrid option for attendees that prefer to stay home  

As we’ve all seen firsthand, vaccination has become a controversial topic. But if you’re worried that imposing a vaccine mandate will tank your registration numbers, have no fear: According to the CDC, 76.4% percent of American adults are considered fully vaccinated and vaccination rates tend to exceed that number in most urban areas. 

But some people may be reluctant to share their vaccination status with your staff. And that’s fine. In that case, we recommend providing a virtual option for attendees who prefer to stay at home. This way, anyone in your audience can participate in your event, regardless of their vaccination status. This can net you more attendees and in turn, more potential leads for sponsors. 

Having a virtual venue also gives you a good backup option in the event of a COVID case surge or another emergency. So it’s worth having, regardless of your event’s stance on vaccines. 

Want to see our vaccine card verification solution in action? Our team of event experts is here to help. Contact us at sales@bigmarker.com to schedule a demo and get started.

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