COVID-19 vaccine: Lake County Fairgrounds converted to drive-in vaccination site

GRAYSLAKE, Ill. (WLS) -- The line seems long, but Lake County officials say it's organized so no one has to wait very long before getting inside the event center at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

The county's first mass vaccination site is now waiting on the vaccine. They have set up in the 65,000-square-foot site because it allows them to vaccinate as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible.

"If we can keep people in their cars, drive in, drive out. Keep our vaccinators safe and warm, that's really our intent," said Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department.

This mass vaccination site is the largest, but the county has many other places to get the vaccine. They have both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which creates some logistical challenges for the health department. They are stored at different temperatures. Moderna comes pre-mixed. Pfizer needs to be diluted. One vial of Pfizer vaccine is enough for five or six doses. It goes into a syringe and minutes later it goes into a patient's arm.

Everyone getting vaccinated here now are Phase 1A patients, like Dean Walker, who got his second shot Tuesday.

"I'm just really happy to get the second dose and get that going," said Walker.

For this first day, they are lining up about 16 cars at a time. Eventually they will bring in as many as 50 or 60. They are all here by appointment. Volunteers get their information and then they get the shot without ever leaving their cars. That helps keep everyone as safe as possible, and also keep the line moving along.

"That's our goal," Pfister said. "We want everybody to get the vaccine to people quickly. But we also need people to be very patient."

Health officials expect to vaccinate phase 1B patients in the next week or two, a much larger group. They hope to double the size and efficiency of their current operation.
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