Cook County Health reopens mass vaccination site in Forest Park

Iliana Mora, chief administration officer for Cook County Health’s Ambulatory Services, said the Forest Park facility alone is equipped to give out 1,300 doses a day.

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Daisy Murillo, 20, of North Riverside, receives a Moderna vaccine booster shot against COVID-19 on Jan. 18 at Cook County’s Forest Park Community Vaccination Site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park.

Daisy Murillo, 20, of North Riverside, receives a booster shot against COVID-19 at Cook County’s Forest Park Community Vaccination Site at 7630 Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. After closing the mass COVID-19 vaccination site in July, Cook County Health reopened it Tuesday in response to the Omicron surge.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The first of three Cook County mass COVID-19 vaccination sites reopened Tuesday in hopes of meeting the demand for those needing to get the jab as case counts have reached new heights.

The facility at 7630 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park had a “steady flow of people” arriving to be vaccinated since it opened the doors at 8 a.m., said Iliana Mora, chief administration officer for Cook County Health’s Ambulatory Services.

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

“I think that [the Omicron variant] is definitely a motivation,” Mora said. “But I also think the easy access, like a mass vax site where they know they can make an appointment or just walk in.”

Mora said those who were getting their first dose said they were thinking about it but had troubles navigating certain pharmacy websites to make an appointment.

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

Cook County Health had shuttered its three mass vaccination sites in July after the demand fell from roughly 4,000 doses per day to fewer than 100, officials said last summer.

The emergence of Omicron has had those who haven’t been vaccinated running to get the jab while those who need a booster find convenience in just walking in. These facilities are also being propped up to ease the burden hospitals are experiencing countywide.

People get doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at Cook County’s 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 surge.

People get doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at Cook County’s 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 surge.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Mora said the Forest Park facility alone is equipped to give out 1,300 doses a day.

Daisy Murillo, 20, said she received an email from Cook County advertising the reopening of the three facilities and immediately signed up her whole family to get their booster shots. The North Riverside resident said her family had to cancel their holiday plans after she and her mother caught COVID-19. She wanted to make sure they were protected going forward.

“We tried looking at Walgreens and CVS but appointments were two or three weeks out, and we wanted it as soon as possible,” Murillo said. “Then we got the notification of this site opening back up and we immediately jumped at the opportunity. My mother is the last person who needs her booster, and she’s coming later tonight.”

Murillo said she wishes the county had more vaccination sites that could help meet the demand. Often, she thinks, people delay getting the vaccine because of how long it can take to make an appointment.

“Especially because the working class is getting more and more sick so I think this is like a good resource for the community to have an opportunity to protect themselves quickly,” Murillo said.

Maywood resident Leslie Brown Simmons said the accessibility of the vaccination site allowed her to bring in her grandson to get his first shot — something he would’ve never 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 couldn’t really understand the websites,” 68-year-old Simmons said after receiving her shot. “When they opened up this in the neighborhood, it made it really easy for me to come.”

Simmons, who was a walk-in Tuesday, said she is also trying to make sure everyone in her family gets 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 age 5 or older can get vaccinated at each of the clinics.

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

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

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

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