Free Masks (N95 Respirators) for Americans
Starting in January 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners to distribute excess N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile to community health centers, local aging and disability networks, local health departments, and other organizations who can distribute free masks to the local community. Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners may have remaining supplies of N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile on-hand that have been distributed through local pharmacies and grocery stores. Please note that, as this initiative began a year ago, some pharmacy partners may have limited or no N95s available for donation.
This document provides more information about this effort for Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners who have masks from the Strategic National Stockpile, and for community organizations interested in receiving masks to distribute.
For Pharmacy Partners
During our collective fight against COVID-19, Federal Retail Pharmacy Partners have helped distribute free N95 respirator masks from the Strategic National Stockpile to U.S. residents.
The N95 respirators that have been supplied by the SNS to our pharmacy partners are considered the property of the pharmacy partner. While the respirators may not be re-sold, they may be redistributed or disposed of at the discretion of the pharmacy. Once materiel leaves the SNS, it can no longer be placed back into the general SNS inventory.
If donating excess N95 respirators in the United States (for domestic use only), pharmacy partners cannot charge for any federally supplied medical assets or pharmaceuticals. Emergency personal protective equipment, medical supplies, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals provided by the federal government are free of charge to those who need them (e.g., patients, healthcare providers).
With COVID-19 cases on the rise this winter, HHS encourages further distribution of any remaining or excess supply to public or private healthcare providers, community support agencies, and organizations so products remain available to benefit the community. Of course, pharmacy partners are welcome and encouraged to continue to make supply available in their own stores.
To aid in this process, below you will find information on community organizations that may be interested in receiving N95 masks to help with their equitable distribution. For your awareness, some of these partners have also received information about the potential availability of masks and may reach out to local pharmacies to inquire.
The above list is just a sample. Other organizations including nonprofit organizations may be interested and able to distribute high-quality masks to communities in need of no-cost protection. For example, advocates for individuals who are immunocompromised and individuals with disabilities have expressed interest in availability of high-quality masks.
We greatly appreciate your help in protecting our communities, and we thank you for all your efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For Community Organizations
During our fight against COVID-19, community organizations have been critical in providing the American public with support and resources to protect themselves from COVID-19.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise this winter, one tool that remains important is N95 respirators. These high-quality masks help individuals, including those are immunocompromised, protect themselves and their families from this life-threatening virus. We know some of you have made N95s and other masks available to communities over the course of the pandemic.
Starting this month, we are encouraging pharmacy partners to distribute remaining and excess N95 masks to community partners like you.
These pharmacies might reach out to you, or you can reach out to them. Please note that, as this initiative began a year ago, some pharmacy partners may have limited or no N95s available for donation.
These masks are being made freely available, so pharmacy partners and other community partners cannot charge for any federally supplied medical assets or pharmaceuticals. Emergency personal protective equipment, medical supplies, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals provided by the federal government are free of charge to those who need, e.g., patients, healthcare providers, community members, and the general public.
We hope this effort is able to help you further your work to protect our communities. Thank you for all your efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.