New mass vaccination site opens in Elgin
Hoping to reach what they characterized as an underserved community, the third mass vaccination site in Kane County opened Wednesday on Elgin's east side.
The new site, a collaborative effort between Kane County, Cook County and the city of Elgin, is at the Eastside Recreation Center, 1080 E. Chicago St.
Dr. Kenneth Campbell, of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the site will ramp up from Wednesday's soft opening of 200 appointments, adding a couple of hundred per week. They will be open Tuesdays through Sundays with a capacity for about 1,000 shots per week.
"By ramping up slowly, we can see what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong and how we need to change our strategy to connect with this community," Campbell said. "That's sometimes missing when we put things out and wonder why they don't come, because there are really culture-appropriate ways to address these things to the different underserved, hard-to-reach communities."
Campbell said one strategy they'll employ is distributing informational, bilingual flyers door to door and on cars to help spread the word.
The vaccine the site distributes will be based on supply, but it opened Wednesday with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That was welcome news to Tom Fraser of West Dundee, who was the first person in line.
"I love that I only have to get one shot," Fraser said. He said his son made him the appointment Tuesday after he had "been having zero luck" making an appointment at the mass vaccination site in Batavia. "Now I don't have to make a second appointment, and it's closer."
Sixteen nurses sat at eight tables Wednesday ready to distribute the vaccine as Illinois National Guard members aided in intake. The site will offer free COVID-19 vaccines to all eligible Illinoisans. Beginning Monday, all individuals above age 16 will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Marcos Bostho of Elgin brought his mother and his roommate to the site Wednesday after calling the health department Tuesday, not knowing there would be a location opening close to his home. He said he immediately started spreading the word by sending links to the website to friends and members of his church.
"Many people I know are looking for the vaccine," Bostho said. "I'm happy to get this done."
Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog said the site is a "perfect fit" for the people of Elgin and surrounding communities.
"We want to make sure that accessibility and availability to this important lifesaving serum is available to anyone who wants it," she said. "If you don't come get the vaccine, we're going to come knock on your door and convince you why you should get it."
Registration is required at the new Elgin location and residents can check for appointments by going to www.kanevax.org or by calling 855-4-KaneVax.
The vaccination site will operate in partnership with the state of Illinois, which is providing National Guard resources. The city of Elgin will manage the site.