Gary to host federal COVID vaccination site at Roosevelt High School

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- Gary is getting its first federal mass COVID vaccination site.

Roosevelt High School is a huge facility on 18 acres at the geographic center of Gary. Since it's been closed for the last years, city leaders said they are thrilled to see it used to help vaccinate residents, and even more excited the federal government has chosen the site for a huge operation.

"It's an honor to be chosen for this federal program and our residents consider it a privilege," said Mayor Jerome Prince.

RELATED: Gary to keep mask mandate as IN ends advisory next month

The site will become a major source of vaccinations for Indiana residents, capable of 3,000 shots a day and 21,000 a week.

Initially they will use the Pfizer vaccine which requires two doses, and for the last two weeks of the eight-week program they will use the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which has just one dose.

"This will give access to people living here who won't have to fight for those spots," said Dr. Roland Walker, Gary's Health commissioner.

Government officials said Gary's diverse population makes it attractive in their effort to reach areas hard hit by COVID-19. They said 1 million people live within a 30 minute drive of the high school, and nearly two-thirds are African-American or Hispanic.

"We want to make it accessible to the entire community," said Mayor Prince.

"Bringing resources to Gary is something I'm not used to, and all I can do is be thankful. We're not used to this collaboration," said Walker.

President Joe Biden is urging states to continue mask mandates despite the increase in vaccinations. Indiana's is set to expire next week right before the vaccination site opens, but Gary's mayor plans to extend the city's mask mandate for the foreseeable future.
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