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U.S. Vaccine Site Sees Most Traffic Ever After New Mask Guidance

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty

CDC’s new masks guidance may have encouraged more people to get vaccinated

Once upon a time, everyone thought Americans would rush out to get the COVID-19 vaccine to, you know, protect their health and do their part to end the pandemic. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. Currently, only about half of all American adults are fully vaccinated despite the fact that anyone can get a vaccine if they want to, and have been able to all month. Now, America has moved into the bribery phase of the pandemic, and apparently, it’s working. Not only did vaccinations increase in Ohio when they announced their five million dollar lottery, but after the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear masks in most indoor spaces, the number of people visiting the government’s vaccine website shot up on the day the CDC made the announcement.

The country launched Vaccines.gov, a site where Americans can find out where to get vaccinated, on April 30, 2021.

The day with the most website traffic was May 13, 2021, which is the same day the CDC changed its guidance on mask-wearing for vaccinated folk.

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on May 13, 2021 (via The AP). “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Later that day, President Biden echoed the statement in a mask-free press conference and the CDC updated their website. In the days that followed, major retailers like Trader Joe’s announced they would follow the CDC’s guidance and allow vaccinated shoppers to go mask-free inside most of their stores.

Per CNN, the website traffic on Vaccines.gov began like any other day on May 13, with traffic slowing down around noon. When Walensky made her announcement at 2:17 pm EST, website traffic — which normally dips around that time of day — shot up.

“Just after 2 p.m., you really started to see them go up,” John Brownstein, co-founder of VaccineFinder, which powers vaccines.gov said.

The number of site visits kept going up and peaked shortly after 4 p.m., right around the time Biden echoed the mask guidance in a televised White House presser.

The number of visitors to the site just after Biden’s 4 p.m. speech hit a significant peak (just over 40,000 visitors) and the site only ever saw a higher peak on May 4th after they ran a significant publicity campaign for the site. However, overall site traffic on May 13 was the busiest day for the site since its launch and that momentum sustained itself, with 1,972,434 visitors throughout the week, compared to 1,604,686 visits in the week before the mask guidance announcement.

“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,” Brownstein said.

The day of the mask announcement Fauci actually predicted this would happen, telling CNN that “the decision that the CDC made was not as an incentive to get people vaccinated, but this could actually have the indirect effect of getting people to be incentivized to get vaccinated.”

If dangling a carrot in the form of a no-mask mandate (or a cash lottery) is what it takes to convince people to get the vaccine, so be it. Get those shots in arms!