CHICAGO — Chicago area pharmacies began giving out free N95 face masks on Friday.

The free masks are coming from the federal government’s strategic national stockpile. Walgreens began distributing the N95 masks Friday at select stores.

“Masks have begun to rollout to the first wave of stores and will continue to rollout into additional stores in the coming days and weeks. We anticipate all participating stores will receive supply by mid-February,” Walgreens said in a statement.

Federal officials said the N95 mask provides better protection against the omicron variant over cloth face masks.

CVS also began releasing face masks in some area locations on Friday.

Other stores expected to carry the free masks are Meijer, Rite-Aid, Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Three masks are available per person.