Rockford lags behind other Illinois cities in vaccinations, mayor says


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois is officially restored as it enters Phase 5 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan today, meaning the return of large gatherings, conventions, festivals and full capacity bars and restaurants.

Masks and social distancing are no longer necessary for fully vaccinated Illinoisians.

Face coverings are required for everyone in schools, doctor’s offices, correctional facilities, and on public transportation.

Health leaders say the milestone is made possible by progress on the vaccine front.

In Winnebago County, the mass vaccination center on Sandy Hollow Road will close tonight.

But at Rockford City Market, the Winnebago County Health Department and Rockford Mass Transit District debuted the city’s new vaccination bus, a mobile clinic which will be visiting events throughout the summer.

The health department says the bus is part of an initiative to overcome vaccine hesitancy among residents. Only 37% of Winnebago County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The VaxUp 815 Mobile Vaccination Clinic offers free shots within minutes.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says he hopes the new option will boost Rockford’s vaccination rate, which is lagging behind other cities in the state.

“In my opinion, we have an abysmal vaccination rate of about 37.5, 38 percent – that number needs to increase. And that’s not for a lack of effort on government’s part. And I certainly don’t represent the health department. But you look at what they’re doing. We have to kind of cut out the excuses and get folks vaccinated,” McNamara said.

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