Cook County is closing its three remaining mass vaccination sites next week as demand for COVID-19 shots wanes.
At the height of the vaccine rollout, the largest mass vaccination sites in the county were administering 4,000 doses a day, Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha said during a news briefing today. Now the sites are administering fewer than 150 doses per day, he said. See the latest COVID figures for the city and state in the charts below.
“The easy part is over,” Rocha said. “Our focus is now on changing hearts and minds, educating and encouraging those who have not yet been vaccinated to get their vaccination. This requires a much more local effort and we’re going to be putting our resources into this endeavor.”
The last day to get vaccinated at the county’s Des Plaines and Forest Park locations is July 20. And the last day to get vaccinated at its Matteson location is July 21. Cook County in late May announced it was closing its other three mass vaccination sites—Tinley Park, River Grove and South Holland—to focus on reaching residents in other settings.
Vaccines will continue to be available to anyone who wants one at local doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other locations around the county, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said during the briefing.
Nearly 50 percent of the county’s population—which includes residents of Evanston, Oak Park, Skokie, and Stickney Township—is fully vaccinated, according to the latest Cook County Department of Public Health data. And nearly 60 percent of the population has had at least one shot.
Infectious disease experts say a vaccination rate of at least 70 percent is needed to reach herd immunity and prevent the virus from mutating. Meanwhile, the more contagious delta variant is becoming more prevalent across the U.S. and leaving undervaccinated communities vulnerable.
To meet people where they’re at, the Cook County Department of Public Health will host clinics in collaboration with schools, community-based organizations and other agencies like the forest preserves and the housing authority, Dr. Kiran Joshi, who co-leads the department, said during the briefing. It will also look to vaccinate residents at festivals and large event venues, he said.
The goal is to have booths at concerts, baseball games and conventions, among other locations, Rocha added.
To date, the Cook County Health system has administered nearly 870,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses—more than 70 percent of which were provided at mass vaccination sites.
Asked whether two-hospital Cook County Health has plans to require that workers get vaccinated, Rocha said “it is something we’re taking under very heavy consideration and we will have more information in the coming days.”