Mass vaccination site to open in Forest Park Friday

When it opens, the site will be able to administer roughly 1,000 vaccine doses per day. The announcement came as the state logged another 1,220 new coronavirus cases, as well as 22 deaths.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces the opening of a mass vaccination site in Forest Park on Monday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker held a news conference Monday to announce the opening of a mass vaccination site in Forest Park, which will begin administering vaccines by appointment Friday.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other state and Cook County officials announced the opening of a mass vaccination site in Forest Park Monday, as the state begins expanding vaccine eligibility ahead of the state’s opening of eligibility to all Illinois residents.

The new vaccination site was announced as the state logged another 1,220 new confirmed, and probable, cases of the coronavirus, as well as 22 deaths.

The new cases were found in a batch of 47,374 tests. As of Sunday night, 1,182 individuals with COVID-19 were reported to be in hospitals around the state. Of that number, 233 patients were in the ICU and 98 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

During a Monday news conference announcing the Forest Park site, Pritzker said the site will “play a critical role in our continued efforts to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents, such as those with pre-existing conditions.”

“Since day one, our Illinois COVID-19 vaccination plan has been an ‘all hands on deck’ effort, and as the national supply has expanded so, too, has the number of locations that Illinoisans can get vaccinated at,” Pritzker said. “Most importantly, we are expanding this network with laser focus on equity and accessibility, prioritizing locations and communities hit hardest by the COVID 19 pandemic.” 

So far, nearly one in three adult Illinois residents have received the vaccine, including about 64% of those 65 and older, Pritzker said.

The Forest Park mass vaccination site will begin taking appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine Friday and will be able to administer roughly 1,000 doses per day when it launches. That number that will grow to 2,000 shots per day soon after, Pritzker said.

The site in Forest Park, a near west suburb, is in a former Home Owners Bargain Outlet location at 7600 W. Roosevelt Road, near Des Planes Avenue. It joins other suburban mass vaccination sites in Tinley Park (southwest) and Des Plaines (northwest). Those sites give county residents multiple “convenient, state-supported options for getting vaccinated,” Pritzker said. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said when fully operational, the Forest Park location can provide nearly 5,000 vaccinations per day. 

The increase in vaccine supply, and a continued decline in new cases of the coronavirus, keep the state “moving closer to our goal to return to normalcy.”

“In order to get on the other side of this difficult time we need to continue vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” Preckwinkle said, adding that mass vaccination sites are “the only way we will beat this virus.”

Cook County opened vaccine eligibility on Monday to those in its Phase 1B+ group, which includes those who are 16 or older with cancer, chronic kidney Disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or other heart conditions, diabetes and other health issues. 

Those with disabilities, pregnant women and smokers are also eligible for the vaccine in the county’s Phase 1B+. 

The state also expanded vaccine eligibility Monday to include additional essential workers like higher education staff, government workers, and members of the media before universal eligibility begins in April. 

“Illinois has made great progress to date in saving lives and ending this pandemic, and I’ll deploy every available resource to get the entire state over the finish line as quickly as possible,” Pritzker said.

Also on Monday, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency announced a $7.8 million advance payment from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s emergency management agency. That money will cover expenses related to the United Center mass vaccination site.

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