The announcement made by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that vaccinated individuals are allowed to take their masks off resulted in a surge of people’s interest to get COVID-19 vaccine, according to the data gathered by CNN from vaccines.gov.

“This shows incentives matter,” medicine professor Dr. Jonathan Reiner said.  “People needed a carrot, and the carrot was the ability to drop the mask in most settings.”

After director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the update on the afternoon of May 13, the site recorded an increase in visits, scoring the second highest spot of visitors since it was unveiled late last month.

“It’s amazing — really amazing,” co-founder of VaccineFinder John Brownstein exclaimed.

Chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that CDC’s announcement was made

“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.”

Since May 13, the number of virus cases in the country has been in steady decline.

Increase on visits

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,”  Walensky said that afternoon, when the visits on the site recorded a decline like the past days.

The announcement made a turn on the number of visits, recording an increase instead of the decrease observed during afternoons.

“Just after 2 p.m., you really started to see them go up,” Brownstein remarked.

The increase in visits continued and touched a peak after 4:00 p.m. following President Joe Biden’s announcement.

“Today is a great day for America in our long battle with the coronavirus,” the president said during a briefing. “I think it’s a great milestone. A great day.”

“The rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do. The choice is yours,” he tweeted shortly after 4 p.m.

After the president’s statement, vaccines.gov recorded more than 40, 000 visitors, hitting its second highest peak since it was launched. On May 4, the site recorded its highest peak due to a publicity drive.

“I didn’t think we would see such a well-defined spike in interest,” Brownstein mentioned.

Throughout the week after the announcement, the interest was sustained and pushed 1, 972, 434 visitors in total. This is higher than the 1, 604, 686 visitors recorded before the announcement on the mask guidance.