ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The former K-Mart will be used as a mass-vaccination site operated by the Illinois National Guard, beginning Tuesday, February 23rd.
The facility will provide up to 1,350 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at full capacity.
“We are thrilled to be able to work with Governor Pritzker to bring the National Guard to Rockford to enhance our vaccination efforts,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “We welcome the members of the National Guard into our community with open arms. This site will be critical to vaccinating tens of thousands of Rockfordians. I urge everyone who is able to consider being vaccinated.”
“This site really is Rockford. It’s people seeing a problem, all of us coming together and working for a solution towards that problem. And we face all of our challenges head-on. and we do it best when we do that together,” McNamara said.
Mayor also said it is a “pretty solemn time” as the U.S. passed 500,000 lives lost to pandemic on Monday.
“The Winnebago County Health Department is grateful for the support of the Illinois National Guard to assist in the vaccination of our community against COVID-19. Through this partnership, additional resources will be provided to significantly increase the number of individuals who can receive COVID-19 vaccine each week.” said Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell. “The Illinois National Guard will be working side by side with the Winnebago County Medical Reserve Corp, community partners, and the Winnebago County Health Department at community and mobile sites to equitably vaccinate and prioritize those most at risk from severe disease and death from COVID-19.”
“We are going to vaccinate based on supply as many as we possibly can do and that’s why we’re building capacity at the time when vaccine availability is just beginning to ramp up. So, understand that we have to build the capacity, so when it arrives, we’re ready to roll,” said Dr. Martell.
The site was leased to the city from developer Sunil Puri for a dollar, McNamara said.
There are now more than 850 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public. While the state is working to increase the number of vaccines administered daily, it is limited by the amount of vaccine available and allocated by the federal government.
There is no charge to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations are available only by appointment at this time and residents are encouraged to check back frequently for open appointments.
Appointments can be made through the health department at wchd.org or by calling 815-319-6705.
Other pharmacies are also offering vaccinations, through their individual websites.
Martell said those with an appointment should bring confirmation of their appointment with them. The expected time for an appointment is 30 minutes, which includes time to get the shot and enter an observation area in case of side effects, which are reported to be rare.
“We are going to vaccinate based on supply as many as we possibly can do and that’s why we’re building capacity at the time when vaccine availability is just beginning to ramp up. So, understand that we have to build the capacity, so when it arrives, we’re ready to roll,” Dr. Martell explained.
Most people have reported a sore arm after receiving the first shot. The health department will reach out to schedule a second dose within 72 hours, Martell said.
The health department is also doing mobile clinics to accommodate those who aren’t able to go to an appointment. To those who are still waiting to be called for an appointment, Martell said, “We have not forgotten them.”
To date, Winnebago County has vaccinated 39,027 people, with 3.14% of the population having received at least one shot of the vaccine.
The rolling 7-day positivity rate has dropped to 3.1%. Martell said there were 69 new cases reported this week, and one additional death. Winnebago County has seen a total of 26,636 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.
McNamara also announced today was Supermarket Employee Day, saying grocery store workers “were there from the toilet paper shortage to simply helping us put food on the table.”