COVID-19 and Monkeypox

General Questions

What are the vaccination requirements for Morehouse faculty, staff, and students?
  • Morehouse College requires all faculty, staff, new students, and returning students to be fully vaccinated and to receive a booster shot when eligible.  You can receive the vaccine and booster shot for free across the United States.
  • Exceptions and reasonable accommodations will be considered for medical or religious reasons.
    • Students can access Student COVID-19 Vaccination Medical and Religious Exemption Request Forms here.
    • Employees can obtain medical and religious exemption request forms by sending an email to hrcovidinfo@morehouse.edu (mailto:hrcovidinfo@morehouse.edu). A Human Resources staff member will send you a form to complete, updated policies, and job descriptions for your job along with alternative positions, if appropriate. Learn more in our email to faculty and staff.
  • Our requirement mirrors policies at all Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions— Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College, as well as the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library—all of which are requiring vaccination and booster shots when eligible.
Why do I need to be vaccinated?
  • Morehouse is committed to fostering a safe campus living and learning environment where the spread of COVID-19 is mitigated to the fullest extent possible. We do not want you to be sick with COVID-19 or make others sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages vaccination as the best way to protect yourself and others from contracting and spreading COVID-19 and its variants, with benefits including:
    • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent serious illness even for those who contract the virus.
    • Individuals getting vaccinated may also protect others, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness, including older adults, those who are pregnant, and those with medical conditions.
What does “fully vaccinated” mean?
  • At Morehouse, being "fully vaccinated" means that two or more weeks have passed since receipt of the second dose in a two-dose series (such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines) or since receipt of a single-dose vaccine (such as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine).
  • Note that if you receive a two-dose vaccine, such as Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna, you will generally have to wait between three weeks and four weeks between your first and your second shot.
Which vaccines qualify?
  • You must have received a vaccine authorized and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Drug Administration to prevent COVID-19.
  • Currently, authorized vaccines are:
    • Pfizer-BioNTech
    • Moderna
    • Johnson and Johnson/ Janssen
How do I know if I qualify to receive a vaccine?
  • All Americans 6 months of age or older are currently eligible to receive a vaccine and boosters are available for all Americans over five years of age.
Where can I get the vaccine?

Check with your state’s public health department or local government to find local locations where you can receive the vaccine. Many major pharmacies also administer the vaccine. You can also use online tools like the ones below:

Do I have to pay to receive the vaccine?

No. The vaccine can be obtained through a health care provider or state and federal governments at no cost to you. However, some providers charge a small fee, so check with the vaccine provider you plan to use before you arrive to make sure you have any needed documentation and understand if they are charging any fees. If they are charging and you do not want to pay, contact your local public health department to find a no-cost provider or visit Vaccine Finder.

How do I know that they are safe?
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that vaccines authorized and recommended by the CDC and the FDA are safe and effective.
  • Hundreds of millions of doses have been administered in the United States under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history.
  • COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization (EUA).
  • Short-term side effects have proven to be mild, and long-term side effects are unlikely.
  • You can also contact your doctor or medical provider to answer more direct questions about the safety of the vaccines.
How do I meet the booster shot requirement?
  • Unless you have received an exemption from the mandate requiring all eligible faculty, staff, and students to be fully vaccinated, you must now receive a booster shot if you are eligible. If you met the official requirement to be fully vaccinated by the end of July 2021, you must receive the booster by February 6, 2022. If you were late in receiving full vaccination, you must receive your booster shot within 30 days of becoming eligible.
    • Eligible students and employees are those 18 years or older who received their last dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shot more than six months prior or who received the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen shot more than 2 months prior.
    • You may arrange to receive the booster shot through an approved provider or get the booster shot for free at Morehouse School of Medicine’s facility near campus at 455 Lee Street SW, Atlanta, GA 30310.
      • Employees: Call Morehouse Healthcare at 404-752-1000.
      • Students: Call the AUCC Student Health and Wellness Center at (404) 756-1241.
Why do I need the booster?
  • Although COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggest that vaccination becomes less effective over time, especially in people aged 65 years and older. Booster shots help extend the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Many Blacks and people of color are hesitant about taking a vaccine because of medical history in America, which includes the Tuskegee Experiment and biomedical research using the cells of Henrietta Lacks without her informed consent. How can I trust the vaccines and the entities that created and authorized them?
  • We understand that many Blacks and people of color are understandably cautious about biomedical treatments given the dishonesty associated with some research in the past. It is important to note, however, that neither the Tuskegee Experiment syphilis study nor the research using Henrietta Lacks’s cells involved actual injection of any disease into the body of a human. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that public health has historically been influenced by the same systemic racism found elsewhere in American society. That’s why respected Black health and science leaders have been highly involved in the development and distribution of the vaccines, including educators and administrators from the Atlanta University Center.
  • Unlike the Tuskegee Experiment, when Black men were not given treatment that might make them better, the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to everyone, including communities of color. We are now in a public health crisis, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Thousands of Blacks and other people of color were included in the clinical trials before any vaccines were authorized, and millions have now received the vaccine safely.
  • Many Black medical and science professionals have been involved in the oversight of the vaccine authorizations, including access to results from clinical trials. Other people of color have been instrumental in the development of the vaccines, such as Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a 34-year-old Black doctor who led the team at the National Institutes of Health, which oversaw the development of the Moderna vaccine. The safety and efficacy of these vaccines have been affirmed by many trusted Black medical leaders who have deep experience in public health in communities of color, including the presidents of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the National Black Nurses Association, Meharry Medical College, the National Medical Association, and Morehouse School of Medicine. The National Medical Association, in particular, established a task force that reviewed the clinical trial data and found that “both the percentage and number of Black people enrolled are sufficient to have confidence in health outcomes of the clinical trials.”
I’d rather take the risk, and after all, it’s my body. Do I still have to get the vaccine and booster?
  • Being vaccinated not only protects you, but it also protects the Morehouse community of which you are an integral part.
  • Everyone who lives, learns, and works at Morehouse College is part of an interconnected environment. Something that impacts one of us impacts us all, which is why we require many different immunizations and vaccinations for members of the community who have frequent interactions with others.
  • COVID-19 is a deadly virus that will not eradicate itself overnight. If you do not receive the vaccine and then, in turn, contract the virus, you put anyone who comes into contact with you in danger, including health care workers who might have to treat you if you are sick, students and faculty you may come into contact with you if you are asymptomatic, and employees who might have to help you quarantine or isolate. If you then trigger a need for contact tracing, where others who have come into contact with you must be identified, tested, and quarantined, significant resources must be expended, and numerous lives disrupted. Vaccinated people have a low risk of contracting the virus, but it is still a risk; and even if everyone around you is vaccinated, you may still pass it on to someone who is susceptible to a related illness.
My religious beliefs prevent me from taking vaccinations like the ones for COVID-19. Can I be exempt from the mandatory vaccine?
  • Requests for exemptions based on religious beliefs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and where a bonafide religious objection is properly demonstrated, an exemption may be granted. Note that a religious exemption is not the same as a philosophical, moral, or conscientious exemption.
  • Employees and students can request a religious exemption by completing and submitting the appropriate forms.
I have a medical condition that makes it risky for me to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Can I be exempt from the mandatory vaccine?
  • Like most medical and pharmacological treatments, research indicates that individuals with certain preexisting medical conditions may have an enhanced risk of negative side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are concerned about the potential negative side effects of taking one of the vaccines, we encourage you to consult your physician for further guidance. Requests for medical exemptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and where a bona fide medical objection is properly demonstrated, an exemption may be granted. If you wish to request a medical exemption, please contact the Morehouse College Office of Human Resources for further instruction.
  • Employees and students can request a medical exemption by completing and submitting the appropriate forms.
  • If you wish to request a medical exemption, please note that you should not disclose the nature of your medical condition unless explicitly asked to do so. In many cases, documentation from your treating physician certifying their recommendation that you abstain from receiving the vaccine on the basis of a preexisting condition will be sufficient to grant a request for a medical exemption.
I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Do I still have to receive the vaccine?
  • You should consult your doctor or medical provider for guidance on receiving the vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. You will need a medical exemption if your medical provider recommends that you not receive the vaccine. 
I do not have a religious or medical exemption but would rather not get vaccinated. How does this impact my status at Morehouse?
  • The safety of the community is our top priority, which is why we’ve mandated the vaccination for all faculty, staff, and students. The only exemptions we will make are religious or medical. Not getting vaccinated could result in the loss of your position or suspension (faculty, staff, or work-study students), or inability to take in-person classes (students) if a special exception is not recognized.
If I lost or did not receive documentation after I received an approved vaccine, what do I do?
  • Most states require the provider who administered your shot to provide the state with a record of your vaccination. You can contact your health care provider or the state’s health department for assistance obtaining documentation.
  • If you live in Georgia, for instance, you can request a record of all vaccinations through the Georgia Department of Public Health by submitting a Request for State of Georgia Official Immunization Record. They will send you a record of all of your vaccinations, including COVID-19, within three to five business days.
  • Learn more from the Georgia Department of Public Health
Is it legal for Morehouse to require me to be vaccinated?
  • Absolutely—and we do not offer this answer lightly. Morehouse and all Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions received extensive legal guidance on this question prior to announcing the mandatory vaccination policy, and just like any other vaccination requirement, we are permitted to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, subject to standard exemptions for medical and religious reasons. The fact that the approved COVID-19 vaccinations were approved via Emergency Use Authorization (rather than the standard FDA approval process) does not preclude us from making the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, so long as the public health emergency posed by the novel coronavirus persists.
I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but I have heard there are issues with it. Does this still meet the requirement?
  • Yes. The CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine in the United States out of an abundance of caution because of a small number of reports of a rare and severe type of blood clot happening in people who got this vaccine. The pause was lifted (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different- vaccines/janssen.html) in April 2021. For additional questions, please contact your medical service provider.
Will I still need to physically socially distance, wear a mask, and practice hand hygiene after I receive the vaccine?
  • Yes, at least for now. Although the vaccines are very effective in preventing illness associated with the virus, authorities and scientists are unsure if you can still carry the virus and infect others. In addition, though there is a low risk of becoming ill if you have received a vaccine, a low risk is still a risk, and we want you to be as careful and healthy as possible.
Will I still have to be tested for COVID-19 after I receive the vaccine?
  • Yes, but not as frequently.
Is Morehouse the only college with this requirement?
  • No. All Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions— Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College, along with the AUC Robert W. Woodruff Library— require vaccination. 

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Student Questions

Which students are required to receive the vaccine?
  • All residential and commuter students. This includes new students, transfer students, and returning students.
I thought young people were immune to COVID-19. Why do I have to be vaccinated?
  • Younger people as a whole have never been immune to contracting COVID-19, although the rate of illness among younger people has been lower. Nevertheless, many young people have become ill after contracting the virus, and some have died. In addition, some young people who contract the virus develop “long haul” symptoms, which may not show up until weeks after your initial symptoms subside.
What vaccination documentation do I need to submit?
  • New students: Once you receive your final dose, you need to obtain and submit a copy of an updated state-certified immunization record which includes your COVID vaccine dates.
  • Returning students: Once you receive your final dose, scan or take a picture of your vaccination card and submit.
  • Once you have received your booster shot, again scan or take a picture of your vaccination card and submit.
How can I submit my vaccination documentation?
  • You will submit your vaccine documentation through the Medicat portal.
When should I submit my vaccination documentation?
  • Once you are fully vaccinated (received both shots), you are encouraged to upload your vaccination information into the Medicat portal using the immunization tab.
    • To log in, you will need to provide the email address you used when you signed up for Medicat along with your username.
  • If you do not remember the information you used to sign up for Medicat please email the Student Health Center at shc@morehouse.edu. Please include your full name and M# to retrieve the email address you used. After you enter your email address into Medicat, you can hit "forgot password" to change your password.
What if I haven’t received my M#?
  • If you haven’t received your M# and need to retrieve the email address you used to sign up for Medicat, you can email the Student Health Center at shc@morehouse.edu and provide your name and date of birth to retrieve the email address you used. After you enter your email address into Medicat, you can hit "forgot password" to change your password.
Can I submit my vaccination documentation along with all of my immunization information?
  • Yes, you can upload with your immunization information. The updated health records and immunization form for new students and transfers has an area identified for COVID-19 vaccination information.
If I don’t want to receive a vaccine, can I continue to just take classes online?
  • Note that we may not be able to offer the full range of course options to online-only students as we anticipate doing for in-person students. You may forego vaccination if you do not plan to come to the Morehouse campus or Robert W. Woodruff Library at all, will not participate in any in-person activities, or interact in the same physical space as anyone affiliated with Morehouse. However, if you want to experience any of these aspects of the Morehouse community, you must be vaccinated or have received an exemption.
I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to show proof of vaccination and booster (when eligible) or request an exemption for in-person attendance?
  • Yes. The science is not clear on how long COVID-19 antibodies will last if you’ve had COVID-19.
I am an international student and have not had access to a vaccine. What should I do?
  • Students who have not received an FDA- or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine will need to be revaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. once they arrive on campus.
  • Students traveling internationally into the U.S will be required to provide a negative PCR test within five days before their arrival for move-in (residential students) or within five days before the first day of classes (commuter students).
I am an international student and have received a vaccine, that is not authorized in the United States. Does this meet the Morehouse requirement?
  • To meet the Morehouse vaccination requirement, international students may receive COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) if they are vaccinated before they arrive on campus for residential living or to take classes. This policy applies to international students only.
  • Vaccines approved by WHO are: AstraZeneca, Covishield (Serum Institute of India) Sinopharm (Beijing Bio-Institute of Biological Products) Comirnaty/BNT162b2 (Fosun Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong) and Sinovac-CoronaVac.
  • Students who have not received an FDA- or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine by the time fall classes begin will need to be revaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for use in the U.S. once they arrive on campus.
  • Students traveling internationally into the U.S will be required to provide a negative PCR test within five days before their arrival for move-in (residential students) or within five days before the first day of classes (commuter students). 
I am a fully online student. Do I need to be vaccinated?
  • You may forego vaccination if you do not plan to come to the Morehouse campus at all, will not participate in any in-person activities, or interact in the same physical space as anyone affiliated with Morehouse. However, if you want to experience any of these aspects of the Morehouse community, you must be vaccinated or receive an exemption.
  • The recommendation is that all individuals get vaccinated, but as long as you are not coming onto Morehouse College’s campus, you are not required to be vaccinated.
How can I submit a request for exemption?
  • If you are requesting a medical or religious exception, use the form.
    • Upon request, Morehouse will consider exceptions and reasonable accommodations related to its COVID-19 vaccination policy based on religious considerations and/or known medical conditions or disabilities which prevent a student from receiving an approved vaccine, provided the requested accommodation is reasonable and does not create an undue hardship for the College and/or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others and/or to the requesting student.
    • Conditions for Consideration of a Request for a Medical Exemption or Reasonable Accommodation
  • Medical exemptions/accommodations for the COVID-19 vaccine will be considered if the student provides a written certification by a licensed, treating medical provider, such as a physician (MD or DO), nurse practitioner (NP), or physician’s assistant (PA), affirming one of the following:
    • The applicable CDC contraindication for the COVID-19 vaccine, or
    • The applicable contraindication found in the manufacturer’s package insert for the COVID-19 vaccine, or
    • A statement that the physical condition of the person or medical circumstances relating to the person are such that immunization is not considered safe, indicating the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances that contraindicate immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Conditions for Consideration of a Request for a Religious Exemption or Reasonable Accommodation:

    Upon request, Morehouse will consider exceptions and reasonable accommodations related to its COVID-19 vaccination policy based on religious beliefs and practices which prevent a student from receiving an approved vaccine, provided the requested accommodation is reasonable and does not create an undue hardship for the College and/or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others and/or to the requesting student.

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Employee Questions

How can I submit my vaccination documentation?
 I already had COVID-19. Do I still need to show proof of vaccination to come to work on campus?
  • Yes.
Some other colleges with vaccination requirements are applying them only to students. Why am I being required to receive the vaccine as an employee?
  • We believe that the safest protocol is to ensure that we have a highly vaccinated population, not only among students but also among faculty, staff, and our on-campus vendors, as we can all carry and transmit the virus.
How do I request an exemption?
  • You can be exempt from the vaccination only if you have a religious objection or a medical condition that makes it unsafe for you to receive the vaccine.
  • If your exemption is approved, you may have some limitations placed on your ability to access campus or additional requirements following protocols to limit the potential that you will acquire or spread the virus.
  • Start by sending an email to hrcovidinfo@morehouse.edu. A human resources staff member will send you a form to complete, updated policies, and job descriptions for your job along with alternative positions, if appropriate.

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