New mass COVID-19 vaccination site set to open in Northwest Suburbs

CHICAGO – A former Kmart is turning into a mass vaccination site in Des Plaines, with the Illinois National Guard supporting the effort. 

Illinois currently supports 18 mass vaccination sites, including two new locations in Des Plaines and Quincy.

About 20,000 vaccine appointments are expected to be available in Cook County starting at 1 p.m. Thursday. It will be the state’s first large-scale site to administer the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine that requires only one dose.

Cook County health officials say people who sign up for appointments can choose which vaccine they want to be administered but emphasized all three options are safe and effective.

“I think the best vaccine for you is the one you can get immediately,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, with the Cook County Department of Public Health. “I think everyone needs to be vaccinated as soon as they become eligible.”

The first Johnson Johnson shipment was delayed and depending on its arrival, vaccinations could start either on Friday or Saturday for essential workers and people over the age of 65.

Up to 3,500 shots a day could be administered at the Oakton Street location in Des Plaines. The news comes as signups are set to begin Thursday for the mass vaccination site at the United Center.

The Illinois Department of Public Health urges residents who have received their first vaccination to sign up for the ‘”V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker” to communicate directly with the CDC about any potential side effects and receive texts reminding them about their second dose. 

On Tuesday, more than 80,000 doses were administered in Illinois. Gov. Pritzker said he expects the average daily delivery of doses from the federal government to surpass 100,000 later this month.

Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, said, ” Before the opening of large sites like this one in Des Plaines, things were pretty grim but I’m very grateful and I see brighter days ahead.”

To learn more about Illinois’ COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program, click here. To contact the Vaccine Sign-Up Hotline, call 833-308-1988 M-F 7 a.m.-7 p.m. CT.