'Getting vaccinated is a huge relief': Kane County's first mass vaccination site opens

  • Ray Leitzke of Carpentersville gets his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the newly opened Kane County mass vaccination site at the former Sam's Club in Batavia.

    Ray Leitzke of Carpentersville gets his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the newly opened Kane County mass vaccination site at the former Sam's Club in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Volunteers Mary Ellen Goebel, left, and Teresa Burdelak and other nurses hold up flags showing they're ready for a patient to step up as Kane County opened its first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. They're both retired nurses from Batavia. "They got me out of mothballs to help," Burdelak said.

    Volunteers Mary Ellen Goebel, left, and Teresa Burdelak and other nurses hold up flags showing they're ready for a patient to step up as Kane County opened its first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. They're both retired nurses from Batavia. "They got me out of mothballs to help," Burdelak said. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Eileen Buck of St. Charles looks away as she is administered her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteer Donna Plonczynkis Friday at Kane County's first mass vaccination site in Batavia.

    Eileen Buck of St. Charles looks away as she is administered her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteer Donna Plonczynkis Friday at Kane County's first mass vaccination site in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Jeff Klingberg of Hampshire was first in line for a COVID-19 shot at Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia.

    Jeff Klingberg of Hampshire was first in line for a COVID-19 shot at Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog speaks before the opening of Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday in a building that once housed a Sam's Club in Batavia.

    Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog speaks before the opening of Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday in a building that once housed a Sam's Club in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sits at the ready at Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia.

    A vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sits at the ready at Kane County's first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County opened its first COVID-19 mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia in a building that once housed a Sam's Club.

    Kane County opened its first COVID-19 mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia in a building that once housed a Sam's Club. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Nurse Cheryl Kane gave a personal touch by drawing a smiley face on a Band-Aid after giving a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the new Kane County mass vaccination site in Batavia.

    Nurse Cheryl Kane gave a personal touch by drawing a smiley face on a Band-Aid after giving a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Friday at the new Kane County mass vaccination site in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Kane County opened its first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. The site is in the former Sam's Club building at 501 N. Randall Road.

    Kane County opened its first mass vaccination site Friday morning in Batavia. The site is in the former Sam's Club building at 501 N. Randall Road. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/19/2021 12:53 PM

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.

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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.

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