Roughly four months after opening, Cook County’s mass vaccination site at the former Hobo store, 7630 Roosevelt Rd., is closing.
The Forest Park site was one of three Cook County mass vaccination sites still open. Three others, including the mass vaccination site at Triton College in River Grove, closed in May.
Dr. Israel Rocha, the CEO of Cook County Health, said that at their height, the mass vaccination centers were administering 4,000 doses a day — a number that, by mid-July, had declined to fewer than 150 doses.
July 20 was the last day for residents to get vaccinated at the Forest Park site. During a special meeting on July 14, Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins said a “clap out” — a ceremony of appreciation for the people who helped open and operate the site — was scheduled for that day.
The mayor also expressed disappointment that, given the site’s presence in the community, more Forest Park residents were not vaccinated.
“The Cook County statistics indicate that only 53.4% of Forest Park residents are fully vaccinated,” he said at the Friday meeting. “I thought that would’ve been a little higher, especially given the proximity and the price of the vaccination, but let’s still encourage our neighbors to do the smart and responsible thing.”
Roughly 65% of Forest Park residents have gotten at least one vaccine dose, according to the county statistics. That’s compared to 59% of suburban Cook County residents with at least one vaccine dose and roughly 48% of suburban Cook County residents who are fully vaccinated.
“Walgreens has indicated that they will continue to have vaccinations on site,” the mayor said. “Additionally, Walmart has reached out to the village. So, we’ll still have an abundance of available vaccinations.”
Meanwhile, county officials are sounding the alarm about the growing prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta variant, which they said was first identified in March. The variant “accounts for more than half of the cases in the U.S. and is taking hold here in Illinois and throughout Cook County,” county officials explained in a statement released July 16.
“This variant, which mutated from the original strain, is highly contagious and causes more severe illness,” officials said. “Unvaccinated individuals continue to be most at-risk for serious illness, hospitalization and death.”
“We have accomplished our first goal—vaccinate as many people as possible against COVID-19 with a large-scale strategy, but our work continues,” said Rocha. “However, there is no doubt that demand for vaccines is waning.”
Dr. Claudia Fegan, Cook County Health’s chief medical officer, tried dispelling some of the concerns people may have about the vaccines.
“We’ve been taking vaccines for years,” she said. “The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are built on new molecular technology that we have been developing for years which makes them safer and more effective than any vaccine we’ve used before. I wish the vaccines we use for measles, mumps, rubella and the flu were as effective as the vaccines we have now for COVID-19. This vaccine is a life-changer.”