CHICAGO (CBS)-- Cook County has reopened its COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in Forest Park, the first of three such sites slated to reopen this week as the fight against the Omicron surge continues.
CBS 2's Mugo Odigwe reports the site at 7630 W. Roosevelt Rd. in Forest Park will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The county's mass vaccination site in Matteson, at 4647 Promenade Way, will open on Thursday; and the site at 1155 E. Oakton St. in Des Plaines will open on Saturday. They also will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Stephen Gallardo was one of the first people in line Tuesday morning at the Forest Park mass vaccination site. He showed up to get his booster shot, after trying for a week at other sites with no luck.
"Most places are booked for a while," he said.
That problem is exactly why Cook County is reopening its three mass vaccination sites again.
"We started seeing some difficulty of our partners being able to meet the needs of the community, as the booster came through, as omicron was discussed," said Israel Rocha, chief executive officer of Cook County Health.
As new COVID-19 cases have surged due to the virulent Omicron strain, pharmacies, doctor's offices, and other vaccination clinics have seen a major increase in demand for shots.
The hope is that access to mass vaccination sites will help ease that burden, giving people like Gallardo another option of where to get a shot.
"We encourage everyone who's watching not only to get their shots, but to get their boosters, and to encourage their family and friends to do the same," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.
There are still some doubters out there, particularly with some health officials saying most of us will likely end up getting COVID, even if we're fully vaccinated.
So what's the point? Experts say being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization or death if you are infected with COVID.
"So really the point is that we're not going to fully protect against Omicron, but we can protect against the complications, and that's really the goal of the vaccinations," said Dr. Gregory Huhn, COVID-19 vaccination coordinator for Cook County Health.
If you want to get a shot at one of the three mass vaccination sites in Cook County, appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are allowed.
To make an appointment visit vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or call 833-308-1988.
All three spots will offer free vaccinations to anyone 5 and older. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be offered at all sites, and you can get primary vaccinations or booster shots.
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