- Published Date:
- Categories: Bison S.A.F.E.: University Pandemic Response
Dear Howard University Community,
We hope this message finds you well. As we have come to the end of the declared Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), we have had an opportunity to review our campus experience over the past 3 years, and can report that after 42,000 vaccinations and 175,000 COVID tests, there have been no hospitalizations related to COVID, nor any COVID-related deaths as a result of campus transmission. This can be largely attributed to having over 98 percent of our 10,000 students and 95 percent of our 3,000 faculty having completed a full round of vaccinations. Compliance with our masking policy although challenging, was also a strong contributor to keeping rates of infection low. We have been very encouraged by the response of our community and their commitment to keeping each other safe.
As a result, several updates below reflect our COVID-19 campus protocols for the 2023 Summer and Fall academic terms:
- We strongly encourage all Howard University community members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including boosters. Vaccination will not be required for campus or residence hall access. We encourage everyone to make the best decisions for their health and safety.
- The Student Health Center will be available for testing symptomatic students, while the COVID center in Room 3600 of the Hospital Towers building will be available for testing symptomatic employees (staff and faculty).
- For students living in campus housing, anyone testing positive for COVID will be required to follow the University isolation policy guided by current health department rules of the District of Columbia.
- Masking on campus is optional except where required; such as health facilities, clinical settings, and clinical training sites. Masks will be optional in classrooms, however, individual faculty may require masks in their courses.
- Effective May 12, 2023, University testing facilities in Blackburn and Stokes Library will be closed.
- COVID vaccinations will be available for students, faculty and staff of the University by appointment in Room 3600 of the Howard University Hospital Towers building on Tuesdays 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., and Thursdays 1-3 p.m. Appointments can be schedules via the web portal at http://HUEmployeeHealth.as.me, or by calling (202) 865-2107.
While severe COVID infections have decreased significantly, there is still risk of severe illness, especially for individuals who are over 65 years old and those who are immunocompromised.
The CDC has offered the current guidelines for vaccinations:
- CDC’s new recommendations allow an additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and additional doses for the immunocompromised. This allows more flexibility for healthcare providers to administer additional doses to immunocompromised patients as needed.
- Monovalent (original) mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be recommended for use in the United States.
- CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 years and older receive an updated (bivalent) mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they previously completed their (monovalent) primary series.
- Individuals ages 6 years and older who have already received an updated mRNA vaccine do not need to take any action unless they are over 65 years old or are immunocompromised.
- For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and the child’s vaccine history.
It is important to note that we will continue to monitor the situation closely, and may adjust our policies as needed to ensure the health and safety of our community. If there is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, or severity of illness, or if CDC guidance warrants, it may become necessary to reinstate previous protocols.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and commitment to keeping our community safe. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the University health services.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Hugh E. Mighty, MD, MBA
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs
Anthony K. Wutoh, Ph.D, R.Ph.
Provost & Chief Academic Officer