COVID vaccine appointments at Gary mass vaccination site open to Illinois, Chicago residents

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- With Chicago COVID vaccine appointments in short supply, many city-dwellers are heading into Northwest Indiana to get their shots at the FEMA site in Gary.

The COVID-19 mass vaccination site there is busy.

"Wherever you put a site, people will find it and come," said Dr. Roland Walker, Gary Health Commissioner.

But it's not just Hoosiers at the site.

"It is about supply and demand, and we seem to have more supply here right now," Walker said. "That is why people are coming here."

Walker said about 40% of the people who have been vaccinated at the Gary operation so far are from Illinois.

"The border between Illinois and Indiana is an artificial border, right? People come back and forth all the time," he said."

Many Chicagoans have been searching for a vaccination appointment for weeks. This week, top health officials in Illinois also pushed residents to drive to find a dose.

"In the city, it is so hard to get it right now," said Nick Hefty, Chicago resident. "I have friends going to the suburbs and driving three to four hours to get right now."

And so Hefty drove from Lincoln Park to Gary for his shot.

"There are appointments open every day for the next few weeks. We were able to get in and out in five minutes. Could not be easier. Worth the 30 minute drive," he said.

Anthea Dill, a teen who just became eligible for the vaccine, also crossed the border for her first dose.

"Get the vaccine," she said. "Go to Gary to get it. Some of my friends have come here to get it."

"Our ultimate goal is herd immunity, we want everyone to come and if we can reach the goal of vaccinating 100,000 people in the next eight weeks, that is great," said Walker.

And they appear to be well on target to reach that goal. Because the Gary mass vaccination site is run by FEMA, you do not have to be an Indiana resident to get an appointment. You can schedule an appointment by clicking here or calling 866-211-9966 if you do not have access to a computer or need assistance.
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