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Cook County Health reopens mass vaccination site in Forest Park

Cook County Health reopens mass vaccination site in Forest Park
Written by Publishing Team

The first of three COVID-19 mass vaccination sites in Cook County reopened on Tuesday in hopes of meeting demand for those in need of vaccinations as the number of cases soared to new highs.

The facility at 7630 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park had a “constant stream of people” arriving to get vaccinated since the doors opened at 8 a.m., said Iliana Mora, executive director of ambulatory services at Cook County Health.

Many, Mora said, were being shot for the first time.

“I think that [the Omicron variant] is definitely a motivation,” Mora said. “But I’m also thinking about ease of access, like a mass vax site where they know they can book an appointment or just walk in.”

Mora said those getting their first dose said they were thinking about it but had trouble navigating some pharmacy websites to book an appointment.

“It’s really hard to go from pharmacy to pharmacy, and it’s just easier to have locations like this,” Mora said.

Cook County Health had closed its three mass vaccination sites in July after demand fell from about 4,000 doses per day to less than 100, a Cook County health official said last summer.

The emergence of Omicron has had those who haven’t been vaccinated racing to get their shots while those who need a booster have found the convenience of just getting in. These facilities are also being strengthened to ease the burden on hospitals across the county.

People receive doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at the Cook County Forest Park Community Vaccination Site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd. on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. After closing the mass COVID-19 vaccination site in July, Cook County Health reopened the site on Tuesday in response to the Omicron push.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mora said the Forest Park facility alone is equipped to dispense 1,300 doses per day.

Daisy Murillo, 20, said she received an email from Cook County announcing the reopening of all three establishments and immediately signed up her entire family to get their reminders. The North Riverside resident said her family had to cancel vacation plans after she and her mother caught COVID-19. She wanted to make sure they were protected in the future.

“We tried to look at Walgreens and CVS, but the appointments were two or three weeks away, and we wanted it as soon as possible,” Murillo said. “Then we got the notification that this site was reopening and immediately jumped at the chance. My mum is the last person who needs her reminder, and she will come later tonight.

Murillo said she wishes the county had more vaccination sites that could help meet demand. Often, she thinks, people delay getting vaccinated because of the time it takes to book an appointment.

“Especially because the working class is getting sicker and sicker, so I think it’s like a good resource for the community to have the opportunity to protect themselves quickly,” Murillo said.

Maywood resident Leslie Brown Simmons said the accessibility of the vaccination site allowed her to bring her grandson to be vaccinated for the first time – something he would never have done if he couldn’t just walk in, she said.

“It was really hard for me to find a place to get my booster because I didn’t really understand the websites,” Simmons, 68, said after receiving his shot. “When they opened this in the neighborhood, it made it very easy for me to come.”

Simmons, who was a walk-in on Tuesday, said she is also trying to ensure that all of her family members are vaccinated or boosted at the facility.

The mass vaccination site at 4647 Promenade Way in Matteson opens Thursday and 1155 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines opens Saturday. Each site will operate Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Anyone aged 5 and over can get vaccinated at each of the clinics.

Leslie Brown Simmons, 68, of Maywood, receives a COVID-19 booster shot at the Cook County Forest Park Community Vaccination Site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

Leslie Brown Simmons, 68, of Maywood, receives a COVID-19 booster shot at the Cook County Forest Park Community Vaccination Site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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