CDC mask update tied to huge jump in COVID-19 vaccination interest

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Interest in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 increased significantly right after the May 13 CDC update that said fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks in most indoor settings, according to vaccines.gov data obtained by CNN.

The website allows Americans to search vaccination sites by ZIP code. On the afternoon of May 13, just after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, announced the new guidelines, the number of visits to the site rose significantly. 

After President Joe Biden mentioned the mask update in both a speech and tweet that afternoon, vaccines.gov saw its second highest peak of more than 40,000 visitors since the site launched April 30.

After the announcement, Anthony Fauci, MD, President Biden's chief medical adviser, told CNN that the CDC revision wasn't made to be an incentive to get people vaccinated, but may indirectly have had that effect.  

Based on the timing of the May 13 spike on vaccines.gov, it's clear the announcement and  presidential mentions of the update were responsible for the increase, said John Brownstein, PhD, professor at Boston-based Harvard Medical School, CIO at Boston Children's Hospital and cofounder of VaccineFinder, which powers vaccines.gov.

"A spike in usage on vaccines.gov right at that moment tells us that relaxing certain restrictions informed some people's decision to get the vaccine," Dr. Brownstein told CNN.

Actual COVID-19 vaccinations also went up May 13 after nearly a month of declining. However, it's not clear what role the change in mask guidance played because the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the use of Pfizer's vaccine in adolescents ages 12-15 on May 12, the day before.

  

 

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