N95 Masks And Where To Find Them

The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises well-fitting respirators approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH). Due to the surging cases of the Covid-19’s omicron variant, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending the use of the highly protective N95 masks. The Biden administration is distributing 400 million N95 masks to pharmacies and community health centers in the coming weeks.

As of January 14, 2022, the masking guidelines recommend that people “wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.” N95s are said to offer “the highest level of protection” followed by the KN95, KF94 and disposable surgical masks. Proper N95s have straps that go around the head and a NIOSH approval label that starts with a TC, followed by seven digits. Written on the mask should be either the manufacturer or brand name and a four-digit “part number” or “model number”.

Visit the CDC website to learn more about their mask recommendations.


Getting Your Free N95 Mask

The Biden administration will have the free N95s available for pickup only at participating pharmacies and community health centers across the country. Participating pharmacies include retailers like CVS, Walgreens, Costco, and Walmart. The availability starts the week of January 24th, with the program fully up and running by early February. There will be a limit of three masks per adult to ensure broad access for all Americans.

To find a community health center near you, click here.

For participating pharmacies and retailers in your state, click here.

It is suggested that mask seekers call ahead for availability as distribution will be on a first come, first-serve basis.


Other Alternatives

There are other alternatives to receiving your N95s, however they will not be free. If you do not want to wait for your free N95 mask, you can choose to purchase from either online, in-store or directly from a manufacturer’s website. CDC has provided a NIOSH-approved list for verified manufactures, like 3M.