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Mass Vaccination Site Opens In Brighton Park

CHICAGO (CBS) --  Those next in line for the COVID-19 vaccine or trying to schedule one for a loved one may be scouring the internet for open appointments. It is a task the state hopes gets easier as it it adds more locations giving out shots.

The state announced 80 new vaccination centers opened this week. Seventy-eight of them are Walgreens stores across the state. Two others are state supported sites -- the Tinley Park Convention Center and Triton College. This comes as private healthcare systems open new sites, too. CBS 2's Marie Saavedra visited one strategically placed in the City of Chicago.   

It's hard to physically see what COVID-19 has done to the people that live in Brighton Park. In a local vaccination site in the gym of Mansueto High School, there is an effort to save lives still at risk.

"A lot, a lot of the people in this community," said Estella Diaz.

The space could transform the surrounding neighborhoods, where staying home and staying safe is rarely an option.

"The families have to keep working for bringing food or all the resources to our families. So they can't stop," said Diaz.

"They've been exposing themselves on a daily basis, so the need is high in the Southwest Side," said Miguel Blancarte Jr. with Esperanza Health Centers, which opened this first mass vaccination site Monday to serve Brighton Park, Gage Park, Marquette Park, Little Village and South Lawndale.

Their three zip codes show the virus' toll. One in every nine people in 60623 has had COVID-19. It's one in eight for 60632, and and in 60629 it's one in every seven. In all three, the virus claimed a total of 621 lives from last March through January.

"Really we were able to set this up in a couple of days," Blancarte said.

The fight here is now twofold: against COVID and against fear of the shot itself.

"Their concerns are they're going to die if they get the shot, so it's a lot of misinformation," said Diaz.

The effort to educate neighbors continues, but the line snaking through the gym shows it's working.

"It feels like, in your heart, you're doing something to making the change," Diaz said.

Esperanza Health's vaccine site at Mansueto High School will be open Monday through Saturday. Appointments are required and open to established patients who have visited Esperanza at least once since 2020 that are 65 and older or frontline essential workers. The vaccine is free of charge regardless of insurance or immigration status. Appointments can be made by calling 773-584-6200.

We've put together several links to help you find the vaccine in our area:

Wal-Mart | Walgreens | CVS (Coming Later to IL, IN) | Jewel-Osco | Meijer | Zocdoc | Illinois Health Department Indiana Health Department

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