Forward Together Update

Dear Panther Community,

Today we’d like to provide responses to some questions submitted by UNI students recently via Instagram covering topics like masks, health risks and even the likelihood of vaccines spawning zombies. Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye, director of the Black Hawk County Health Department, was kind enough to answer them all. 

Dr. Egbuonye, who has a doctoral degree in public health education from Texas A&M, is a public health expert fluent in four languages. In a recent interview, she encouraged UNI students not only to protect themselves against COVID-19, but also to stay on top of their overall health.  

Dr. Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye

“You’re young, you’re vibrant, you’re in the prime of life - but it doesn’t mean that you should ignore taking care of your health,” she said. “Those annual visits, those vaccinations are very important because there are long-term consequences if you don’t.”

“One of the things that COVID is teaching us is the fact that you might have an underlying health condition and you don’t know it. You might be borderline diabetic, 18 to 24, and then when you get COVID, it’s harder for you to fight."

As a fully vaccinated student am I still at high risk of contracting or spreading COVID?

“As a fully vaccinated student, you are not at a high risk of contracting COVID, that’s why vaccines are so important. And even if you do contract COVID the symptoms are mild. But you can spread COVID-19 and that's why the CDC came back with recommendations that fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear masks."

“We've seen breakthrough cases where people can be vaccinated and have COVID and spread it without knowing. So we want to make sure that we are protecting individuals that are not vaccinated.”

Should I wear a mask in class if nobody else is?

“You should wear masks in class because you know, even if you're alone, you're taking the responsibility of protecting yourself and protecting others around you. And it's really something that also shows leadership. Because you know what, as leaders, our responsibility is not just to ourselves, but it's to the overall community.” 

“And so I applaud those that make every effort to protect themselves and those around them.” 

Will I turn into a zombie if I get the vaccine?

“You will absolutely not turn into a zombie when you get the vaccine. You know, vaccines have been here for a long time. You might have mild symptoms after the vaccine, but that really is because the vaccine is working. It boosts your immune system and so we want that to happen.” 

“But a zombie? Absolutely not.”

While the last question was probably included as a humorous Instagram posting compared to the serious ones presented, it does remind us to be cognizant of keeping humor alive in our lives while supporting each other. Yet we all know that COVID is a serious public health crisis, and hopefully with increased vaccination rates we will eventually reach herd immunity.

Get Vaccinated!

Vaccines are readily available, including at the Student Health Clinic every Thursday from 1:00-3:00pm and Friday from 9:00-11:00am.

Students who are fully vaccinated can receive a $25 UNI Bookstore gift card, available at Essentials: Monday - Thursday: 8:30am - 6:00pm and Friday: 8:30am - 2:30pm.

If you are looking for a vaccine off-campus, search, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

If you have a question, please visit or email it to Thanks for all that you do to keep yourself, your family and the Panther community safe.

Stay Well,

John Vallentine,
Associate Provost for Faculty

Joseph Rayzor,
Director of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety