HBCU Talking Points

Caring for our college community

The risk that COVID poses is going down for most people in the United States—thanks, in large part, to widespread vaccination.

Help keep our campuses healthy get your COVID vaccine as soon as you can and stay up to date with your vaccines. Vaccines offer you the best protection from COVID.

You have three ways to find vaccines near you:

  •  Go to vaccines.gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  •  Call 1-800-232-0233

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth inside public places when the COVID risk to your community is high.

If you’re at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID, you can also protect yourself by:

  • Keeping at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you.
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you don’t have soap and water.
  • Our HBCU leadership is here to support students and staff emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us, as well as to others you know who are alone or may feel isolated while attempting to avoid COVID-19.

General considerations

  • Our HBCU community wants to ensure that during this pandemic, we take as many preventive and protective measures as possible for all of us to stay healthy and to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • We need to regularly communicate with state and local authorities to determine current policies and procedures and follow any recommendations we deem appropriate for our college community.
  •  Because of the pandemic, we urge any member of our community to please stay home and, if able, limit yourself to remote learning and virtual classes if you:
    • Are feeling ill
    • Have a cough
    • Have a fever
    • Are experiencing any other symptoms of infection
    • Were exposed to someone with COVID-19

Conversations in the community

There is a world of questions around COVID-19 in our community, and it’s important to be able to share accurate information. Here are some talking points based on facts and insights put forth by CDC.

Promote healthy practices

  • Since people can spread the virus before they know they’re sick, we’ll all stay at least 6 feet apart when we’re allowed to enter campus buildings.
  • We’ve taken steps to reduce the number of people congregating inside our campus buildings at the same time. We’ve created additional options for education and remote learning, including online options (fill in here what other options you have put in place for this).
  • We’re also increasing our cleaning procedures and are focusing on disinfecting surfaces in high-traffic areas for the benefit of us all. In addition, when possible, we’ll open windows to increase indoor air ventilation.
  • Vaccines are here and all students and staff can get them. This is no time to let down your guard. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available to us. Getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations offer the best protection.

Promote remaining at least 6 feet apart

  • Please follow (provide directions specific to your students and staff) safety precautions and stay at least 6 feet apart from people who don’t live with you when sitting or standing.

Socialize your COVID-19 safety precautions

  • Since we want to ensure our whole community is aware of our safety precautions, please help us by sharing this information with your friends, staff, and fellow students. We share this information regularly through our newsletter, bulletins, and social media channels. Please bring this up with your family and friends and follow our safety precautions.
  • Please let us know if you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test and have been in our building. When this happens, we’ll contact everyone who was in our building that day and encourage everyone to get tested or stay at home to reduce virus transmission in our services. There is no shame in testing positive for COVID-19. We all need to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccine readiness/confidence


  • The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States meet the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness. Tens of millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and all COVID vaccines will continue to be monitored for safety. 
  • Serious health effects from vaccines are very rare. It’s highly unlikely that COVID-19 vaccines will cause long-term health problems. Also, there is no evidence at all that they will cause infertility or cancer.
  • Your risk for serious health problems is much lower from the vaccine than your risk if you’re unvaccinated and get COVID-19. COVID-19 can leave you with heart and lung damage and other conditions that require long-term treatment. Vaccines are much safer paths to immunity than the disease itself.


  • All available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.
  • To get the most protection from the vaccines, you need all the recommended doses for people your age.
  • Updated vaccines are available to help protect against Omicron.
  • Get an updated COVID vaccine now if you’re 18 or older and:
    • You haven’t yet gotten a COVID vaccine.
    • You’re vaccinated and your last dose was before September 2022.
  • People 65 and older can now get a second updated COVID vaccine beginning 4 months after their first.
  • People with a weakened immune system can get a second updated COVID vaccine beginning 2 months after their first.
  • If you recently had COVID, you can wait 3 months from when you got sick to get your updated COVID vaccine.
  • Novavax offers a booster dose of its COVID vaccine, but it doesn’t target Omicron. People 18 and older can get the extra Novavax dose if they’ve completed their primary vaccination series.

Keeping connected

  • Let’s reach out and support students and staff who choose not to be physically present in our buildings during these trying times.
  • Remember you can safely connect via text, calls, and video.
  • Our college community is here to support you emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and those you know who are alone or isolated to avoid getting COVID-19.
  • If you have questions regarding COVID-19, preventive measures, or the vaccines, please let us know. We can ensure you have the most recent fact and science-based information. Go to cdc.gov/coronavirus or your local public health department’s website.

Safety is the top priority

The FDA and CDC have the highest standards when it comes to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Their process includes the following procedures:

  • Scientists must first test vaccines extensively in medical studies to ensure they are safe and effective.
  • Before the FDA authorizes a vaccine for use among the public, it ensures its safety by independently:
    • Reviewing the data from the medical studies, and
    • Inspecting the manufacturing facilities.
  • Even after a vaccine has been authorized, the FDA and CDC closely monitor vaccine administration to identify even rare side effects or reactions.
  • The FDA and CDC closely review any reports of side effects or reactions and share these facts with the public.

The extremely rare cases of blood clotting and Guillain-Barré Syndrome following Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine and heart inflammation following Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s vaccines—a very small number of cases out of millions of vaccinations—show that the FDA and CDC’s vaccine safety monitoring systems work and catch even the rarest reactions.

Thorough investigations have confirmed that all three FDA-authorized vaccines are safe and effective. Medical experts stress that the benefits of receiving any of the COVID-19 vaccines in use in the United States far outweigh any potential risks.

The monitoring systems ensure that doctors are notified to watch for signs of serious reactions, no matter how rare, and are aware of proper courses of treatment.