Office of the President: Update on Student COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements

Dear Howard University Community,

As we plan for our community to return to campus, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, neighbors and guests remains at the forefront of our decision-making. While the local and national impact of the coronavirus pandemic is certainly waning, and Mayor Muriel Bowser has announced that most capacity restrictions will be lifted in the district on May 21, we understand that COVID-19 still poses a threat – especially for those in our community.

I write today to share an important update on vaccines, which will play a significant role in enabling our return. Howard University students who reside on campus or come to campus for any reason are required to be fully vaccinated prior to their arrival on campus for the Fall semester. Being fully vaccinated means that two or more weeks have passed since receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series or since receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Vaccines are available to all adults, with over 256 million doses given and 118 million people now fully vaccinated in the United States.

As with all our existing vaccination requirements for students, medical and religious exemptions will be granted in accordance with federal and local law. Students with exemptions may be required to wear masks and eye protective PPE while on campus. Students will provide proof of vaccination through the secure Medproctor portal, just as they have done with other vaccinations that are already required by University policy. Additional information on issues such as timing, verification process and exemptions will be forthcoming from the Office of Student Affairs. Please visit the Bison S.A.F.E website for continual updates. For any immediate questions, please call the hotline at 202-806-3345 or 800-822-6363.

The past 15 months have been exceedingly difficult for our community. While I will always be grateful for and inspired by the tremendous resilience our students, faculty and staff demonstrated by maintaining their standards of excellence in a new and difficult environment, I know that we have all been eagerly anticipating a return to our physical campus.

Vaccination of our community members is critical to continue meeting our highest priority – maintaining the health of our constituents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists several benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including but not limited to:

  • Preventing serious illness, even for those who contract the virus; and
  • Protecting others, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults, those who are pregnant and those with medical conditions.

Furthermore, the CDC has found that millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. To date, the systems put in place by the CDC to monitor the safety of these vaccines have found only two serious types of health problems after vaccination, both of which are rare.

The coronavirus pandemic has already exacted a far too devastating toll on communities of color.

To prevent further suffering, we strongly encourage everyone to receive the vaccine at their earliest opportunity. As we transition back to campus, having our entire student population vaccinated is essential to keeping our community healthy and safe.

While requiring the vaccine for students was a difficult choice, we strongly believe that it is the right one. Right now, receiving the vaccine, and encouraging others to do so, is one of the surest and most beneficial acts of service you can provide to our community.

Thank you for your cooperation and support.

Excellence in Truth and Service,

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery