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How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?

The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it’s used.

January 28, 2022 / 11:58 AM IST
Source: AP

Source: AP


How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?


It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times.


The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it’s used.


Using the same mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different than wearing it all day at work.


The amount of time a mask is worn is more important than how frequently it’s worn, says Richard Flagan, who studies masks and aerosols at the California Institute of Technology.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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In general, he recommends limiting the use of an N95 mask to about two or three days.


With every breath you take in an N95, particles accumulate on the mask, Flagan says. That could make it more difficult to breathe if the mask has trapped a lot of particles.


"They are degrading the performance of the mask,” Flagan says.


The elastic band on the mask could also get worn out and not fit around your face as snugly. It might also get dirty or wet, especially if you’re using it while exercising.

If you notice any of these changes to your mask, it’s time to stop using it — even if you’ve only used it a few hours. And since N95 masks can’t be washed, they should be thrown away once you can no longer use them.



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Associated Press
first published: Jan 28, 2022 11:58 am
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