An increasing number of HBCUs are requiring that students get their COVID-19 vaccinations before stepping foot on campus. Among them are Delaware State University and the entire AUC (Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University) and Howard University. Howard’s Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery and Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA recently wrote an eye-opening statement explaining why so many HBCUs are making the move, and we encourage you to read it below.

Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA (Credit: Eman Mohammed)

In May, I announced that any student who would physically be on the Howard University campus for the Fall 2021 semester would be required to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Following extensive deliberation and feedback from faculty, staff, students and parents, we are extending this requirement to include faculty and staff who will be on campus during the Fall. This is a necessary and reasonable step, focused on the safety and health of all members of our community. 

Faculty and staff who will be on campus this Fall must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) by September 3, 2021. The second dose of a two-dose regimen must be completed by October 1, 2021. New hires are already required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their start date. Masks are still required indoors and outdoors while on campus regardless of vaccination status. 

We do not make this decision lightly, and we have considered all concerns, options and voices to best protect our community. The leadership of the Howard University Staff Organization and faculty representatives of the Fall 2020 Preparation Committee weighed in. Each group, including parents and student representatives, shared concerns and recommendations, focused on the overall health and safety of the community.

Staff at Howard University give a Covid-19 vaccination to a hospital staff member on Dec. 15, 2020, in Washington, D.C. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Several factors significantly influenced this decision. First, the vaccines have proven highly effective in significantly decreasing the transmission of COVID-19. Recent data indicate that 97 percent of people now entering hospitals for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. Additionally, nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the United States are now among unvaccinated individuals. The safety record for the vaccines has also been very encouraging, with limited widespread concerns. 

Our concern regarding the spread of variants also frames our decision regarding a University-wide vaccine requirement. Data has proven that the best way to fully protect our community is through vaccination. To date, we have provided over 45,000 COVID-19 vaccines to district citizens and members of the Howard University community. We are further encouraged by recent surveys demonstrating that 90 percent of faculty and staff have already been vaccinated for COVID-19 and that over 87 percent of students have also been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The vaccination clinic is located in the lobby of the Howard University Hospital building between the hours of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. There are no appointments necessary. We will also continue to provide free COVID-19 testing to students, faculty and staff at the on-campus testing center located in suite 3600 of the Howard University Hospital (HUH) Towers building.

Medical and religious exemptions will be granted in accordance with federal and local law; details regarding the exemptions can be downloaded or requested via the Office of Human Resources. For additional details regarding the implementation of the requirement and how to provide vaccination documentation, please visit the University’s COVID-19 response site:

Students should continue to submit vaccination documentation through the MedProctor portal. Please remember that falsifying human resources document submission is a violation of the University’s policies and will trigger disciplinary actions.