Vaccine Illinois: Cook County COVID mass vaccination sites close this week

Illinois vaccination rate slows as IDPH reports 670 new COVID cases, 4 deaths Monday
FOREST PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Cook County's last open COVID mass vaccination sites will close this week.

Only one person could be seen Tuesday morning at the once bustling Forest Park location.

So Cook County health officials have said they are switching gears.

Ariyanna Halsell got vaccinated Tuesday, after being hesitant about the side effects, but the Northern Illinois University student said she had to get it done.

"I wanna get the full college experience, so I have to," Halsell said. "I wanted to live on campus, so that's one of the requirements to live on campus."

She's one of the last to visit the Cook County mass vaccination site in Forest Park, which will close permanently Tuesday, along with the site in Des Plaines, as health officials see waning demand in these types of settings.

On Wednesday, the last Cook County mass vaccination site in Matteson will also shut down.

At one point, these locations were collectively doling out thousands upon thousands of shots per day. Now foot traffic has come to a screeching halt.

RELATED: Illinois COVID Update: IL reports 670 cases, 4 deaths; Mayor Lightfoot expected to speak on virus

So Cook County health officials said they now plan to focus on reaching unvaccinated people on a more local level through mobile clinics.

That effort has been made more urgent as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps the nation.

"The reason it's so formidable is that it has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in extraordinary matter well beyond any of the other variants," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director testified before Congress Tuesday morning as guidance on masks is splintering at the local level.

Some cities and medical organizations are recommending a return to universal mask wearing, despite federal guidance that vaccinated Americans can go without masks.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that, despite vaccination status, all students over the age of 2 should wear masks for in-person learning.

The pressure is now on the CDC to revisit its guidance.

"We continue to recommend that schools implement layered prevention strategies to protect those that are not fully vaccinated and encourage vaccination for those who are eligible," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago's top doctor are expected to talk more about the pandemic at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
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