'Getting vaccinated is a huge relief': Kane County's first mass vaccination site opens
After battling a case of COVID-19 last summer that she said "hit her hard," Carolina Ballines of North Aurora was relieved to get her second dose of the Moderna vaccine Friday at Kane County's first mass vaccination site in Batavia.
"I was hospitalized for two weeks and was on oxygen three months," Ballines said. Subsequent antibody tests showed she was still in danger of reinfection.
"Getting vaccinated is a huge relief," she said.
Relief was a common sentiment at Friday's opening of the Kane Vax Hub in the building that formerly housed Sam's Club at 501 N. Randall Road. The site will be open six days a week and is expected to serve 18,000 people per week to start. Vaccinations are given out by appointment only and walk-ins will be turned away.
Jeff Klingberg of Hampshire was first in line to receive the vaccine, his first dose. He said he has an elderly mother and a sister with health issues at home and having everyone in the house vaccinated will put his mind at ease. He only had one more wish.
"Just having a meal out," he said.
Eileen Buck of St. Charles received her second vaccine dose Friday, saying she couldn't wait to go on vacation, with a trip already planned to Key West in May. And just as important, she said, she feels safer visiting her 91-year-old mother.
"Visiting her without a mask on is gonna be awesome," Buck said.
The site planned to administer 1,000 vaccine doses on the first day, Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog said.
The former big box store now features a queue when patients walk in as they head to registration tables. From there, 16 tables are currently set up with two nurses per table ready to administer the vaccines. Patients then have a QR code on their paperwork scanned and must sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes before leaving to make sure they don't have an adverse reaction to the medication.
"I'm awe-inspired by the volunteers and the staff," Pierog said. "They've done such an incredible job on what was an empty, unused facility, and now there's life in it."
Pierog said officials plan to add more vaccination tables if necessary.
The Illinois National Guard will staff the site, along with the county health department and medical volunteers.
A new website accompanies the opening of the vaccination location. The site, kanevax.org, allows residents to see which version of the vaccine will be offered on specific dates. The mass vaccination site will offer the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which both require two doses several weeks apart. The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not yet available at the new site.
Anyone in need of assistance with making an appointment can call KANEVAX by phone at (855) 452-6382, the Illinois Vaccine Appointment Call Center at (833) 621-1284, or Illinois' Guidance on COVID-19 at (800) 889-3931.