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COVID-19: N95 Mask Distribution, Vaccine Studies

The Biden administration is distributing 400 million N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile to pharmacies and community health centers across the country. These facilities can distribute up to three masks per person, pending availability, at no cost.

CDC Studies on Vaccination

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published several studies on vaccination and infection rates Jan. 21 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Effect of Vaccination, Prior Infection on COVID-19 Case Rates

One study examines the effect of vaccination and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection on infection and hospitalization rates in California and New York. Between May and November 2021, people who were unvaccinated and did not have a prior COVID-19 infection remained at the highest risk of infection and hospitalization, while those who previously were infected had the greatest protection, regardless of vaccination status.

A CDC statement noted this study was conducted before the widespread implementation of booster shots, and the level of protection offered by vaccination and surviving a previous infection changed during the study period. “Vaccination remains the safest strategy for protecting against COVID-19,” the statement says.

Booster Shot Effectiveness

A second study shows that while vaccine effectiveness dropped 180 days after receipt of a second mRNA vaccine, a third vaccine dose was:

  • 94 percent effective at preventing emergency department and urgent care visits associated with COVID-19; and
  • 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization during both delta and omicron variant–predominant periods.

Effectiveness of Booster Shot on Delta, Omicron Variants

A third study examines the role of booster shots in protecting against infection and death in 25 jurisdictions in periods of delta and omicron variant dominance. From October to December 2021, COVID-19 case rates were lowest among fully vaccinated people with a booster dose, compared with fully vaccinated people without a booster dose and unvaccinated people. Protection against COVID-19 improved among people who received a booster dose compared with those not receiving a booster, regardless of primary series vaccine product type. Booster doses provided the largest gains in protection among people age 65 and older, followed by people ages 50–64.

FDA Expands Remdesivir EUA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Jan. 21 expanded its emergency use authorization (EUA) for Veklury (remdesivir) for nonhospitalized adult and adolescent patients who are at high risk of progression to severe COVID-19.

Previously authorized only for hospitalized patients, remdesivir now may be used in qualified outpatient settings that can administer daily intravenous infusions over three consecutive days. FDA also expanded the drug’s pediatric EUA to include nonhospitalized patients younger than 12 years old who are at high risk of disease progression.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the pandemic.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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